Abhijit is Mukul: NIA uncovers ULFA-I chief’s identity

Agency files charge sheet against Mukul Hazarika, Paresh Baruah in Guwahati

July 15, 2017 07:54 pm | Updated 10:44 pm IST - Guwahati

 A CISF jawan stands outside the office of the National Investigation Agency in New Delhi. File

A CISF jawan stands outside the office of the National Investigation Agency in New Delhi. File

For the first time ever, the NIA has established that the real identity of Abhijit Asom, the chief of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom - Independent (ULFA-I) is Dr. Mukul Hazarika, a doctor based in the U.K.

On Saturday, the agency filed a charge sheet against Dr. Hazarika and ULFA’s absconding military chief Paresh Baruah in a Guwahati court and accused them of “waging war against the Government of India, extorting money from government departments and private individuals and commission of terrorist attacks and other unlawful activities.”

The charge sheet, accessed by The Hindu says that one of the surrendered cadres of ULFA-I has recorded a statement before a magistrate that “he saw a senior official of the Chinese arms company, NORINCO, holding a discussion with Lt. Arunoday Dahotia, assistant publicity secretary of ULFA-I.”

The China North Industries Group Corp (NORINCO) is known for producing hi-tech defence products.

The NIA said Baruah was operating from ULFA-I’s camp at Taga in Myanmar which currently has 400 cadre.

Dr. Hazarika is also associated with the U.K.-based human rights group, Assam Watch, which periodically raises the issues of human rights violation in the State.

Extradition process

An NIA official told The Hindu that they would soon begin proceedings to extradite Dr. Hazarika from U.K.

“Investigation, on the basis of information generated from other sister agencies has revealed that Dr. Hazarika is holding a British passport and is living in Cleveland. The investigating team is making an effort to collect all the details of the accused Dr. Mukul Hazarika alias Dr. Abhijit Asom, which is his organisational name, from U.K. through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT),” the NIA charge sheet said.

The charge sheet said that in 2016, Dr. Hazarika was present at the ULFA’s Taga camp in Myanmar during Bihu celebrations with S.S. Khaplang, leader of the banned Naga outfit, NSCN(K), who passed away in June this year.

“Before joining ULFA-I, Dr. Hazarika was a student of Guwahati Medical College in 1970. The relevant documents in this connection have been collected….Evidence in the form of oral testimonies revealed by one of the family members of Dr. Hazarika reveals that he is presently residing in London for the past 15 years. This revelation coupled with the analysis of the e-mail correspondences of ULFA-I with media houses in Assam further establish that he is running and commanding the activities of ULFA-I by sitting in London,” the NIA said.

NIA said it had registered a case against the banned outfit in 2013 and “it’s not an incident based, but a suo motu case.”

“During investigation, most of the FIRs registered against ULFA-I in Assam from 2008-17 have been collected,” the NIA said. India banned the outfit in 1990.

“The investigation, on the basis of the available records in social media and Internet, has revealed some of the major assassinations by ULFA, which include that of Surendra Paul in May 1990, the brother of businessman Lord Swaraj Paul, that precipitated a situation leading to the sacking of the Government of Assam under Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and the beginning of Operation Bajrang,” the charge sheet said.

Incriminating photos

The prime evidence against Dr. Hazarika came from his personal security assistant, Gagan Hazarika, who was arrested in June, and his personal collection of photographs of Dr. Hazarika celebrating Bihu at Taga camp has been used as evidence.

The NIA said in 2003, ULFA had killed labourers from Bihar after the alleged molestation of a Mizo girl in a train passing through Bihar, which sparked off anti-Bihari sentiments. The outfit saw it as an opportunity to regain lost ground.

In January 2007, the ULFA once again killed around 62 Hindi-speaking migrant workers from Bihar, the NIA said.

“The Central government responded with toughness, forcing ULFA-28 battalion to unilaterally bow down and seek asylum from the government. This one-sided ceasefire broke the backbone of ULFA,” the charge sheet said.

“According to intelligence sources, the Paresh Baruah faction of the ULFA, which has been continuously raising its voice against the ongoing peace process being initiated by the Arabinda Rajkhowa faction, is engaged in a massive recruitment drive in the rural areas of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Lakhimpur and Nalbari districts of Assam,” the charge sheet said.

NIA said ULFA operated camps from Bhutan till 2003 till the Royal Bhutan Army destroyed them. The agency said the ULFA is reported to maintain camps in Bangladesh. Baruah was living in Dhaka till 2012, when a massive consignment of arms and ammunition was intercepted at Chittagong port.

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