ULFA-LTTE links come to light

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,

Guwahati : Links between a leading Indian militant group and the Tamil Tigers have for the first time been confirmed by a rebel leader Wednesday, two days after the army seized documents stating payments made towards weapons bought from the Tigers.

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There were several reports in the past quoting intelligence reports that the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) had direct links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

On Monday, soldiers of the 19 Kumaon Regiment seized a large cache of weapons and explosives buried inside a pit, besides documents relating to the ULFA’s financial transactions.

“There was a noting in one of the accounts statement that the ULFA paid Rs.2.3 million to the LTTE towards purchase of weapons,” an army commander said.

Now, for the first time, an ULFA leader admitted links with the LTTE.

“It was sometime in the early 90s when I was just an ordinary member at the Lakhipathar camp (in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district) when we saw three lanky Tamil men with our commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah. We were later told they were from the LTTE,” Prabal Neog, a senior leader of the pro-talk ULFA faction, told IANS.

The Alpha and Charlie companies of the ULFA’s 28th battalion, the most potent striking unit of the outfit, announced a unilateral ceasefire in June last year.

The group now in a ceasefire mode named themselves as the pro-talk ULFA faction.

“I don’t know much about the ULFA-LTTE links, but then we heard from our seniors that something was on. We were too young at that time when such a linkage was established,” Neog said.

The ULFA-LTTE links were established sometime in the early 1990s with LTTE guerrillas training ULFA cadres in the jungles of Assam, according to intelligence and police inputs.

“LTTE supplied arms to ULFA through its navy with the consignments handed over in Chittagong (Bangladesh) to ULFA leaders. It was Pakistan’s ISI agents that introduced LTTE arms suppliers to ULFA,” said an intelligence official.

However, the ULFA-LTTE links did not continue for long and probably snapped in the late 90s.

“Now that there is material evidence in the form of the accounts statement and that ULFA leaders have admitted links with the LTTE, things need to be investigated to find out more about ULFA’s other connections,” Nishinath Changkakoty, a former Assam police chief, said.