From Bhupen Goswam
GUWAHATI: The encounter between a group of ULFA (I) militants and police trying to sneak into Myanmar through Pangeri in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam set the stage for the first major attack against the outfit in months by the security forces, potentially a threat to nascent peace initiative launched by CM Himanta Biswa Sarma. It was only a year ago that Sarma had announced peace talks with ulfa (I), one of his priorities, a proposal that the Paresh Barua-led outfit took revenge by not announcing a general strike on this Republic Day for the first time since 1996.
The encounter took place at Pengeri, about 500 km from Guwahati, when a large police contingent led by DIG (Northeast Range) Jitmol Doley was carrying out searches in Guzupathar area along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border for the five-member United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) group. The exchange of fire took place 20 minutes before the militants fled into the forest. Indian Army officials said days after the Indian Army killed the United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) cadre, the two armies again locked horns in the same district — Tinsukia in Assam. The operation was launched by a team of Tinsukia police led by DIG Jitmal Doley after they came to know that a group of cadres were hiding in Kuzupathar village in Pengeri in Tinsukia.
It is also suspected that the ULFA-I group was led by senior ULFA (I) leader Rupam Assam. It is being told that additional security forces have reached the spot and now the entire area has been cordoned off. The incident comes days after security forces gunned down ULFA (I) cadre Gyan Assam. At least two-three members of the group were reported to have been injured in the firing and a large number of arms and ammunition were recovered. Our search operation is still ongoing.According to sources, the security forces had received information about the presence of six cadres of ULFA-I led by Rupan Assam, who had taken shelter at Dapathar Mazgaon under Kakopathar police station. Police said a group of six militants were hiding in a house. After receiving the inputs, a joint team of 14 Assam Regiment and police launched an operation during which they were attacked with firing by terrorists and two grenades.