Ulfa weapons found in Shillong school


Shillong, Oct. 31: Meghalaya police are investigating the role of any overground operatives of Ulfa here in helping the outfit hide arms and ammunition underneath a stage erected on a school ground in the Madan Laban locality.

A hunt is also on to trace those who had kept the arms, ammunition and explosives to understand the motive.

The police last night recovered two rusted AK-47 rifles, ammunition, explosive materials, grenades, satellite phones and documents belonging to Ulfa from underneath the stage of Shillong Vidyalaya Higher Secondary School at Madan Laban.

The police said the documents found relate to letters between senior Ulfa cadre Dristi Rajkhowa camping in Bangladesh and other cadres of the militant outfit. The letters date back to 1998-99.

According to one such letter written on May 1998 and signed both by Rajkhowa and another cadre, Y. Changma, the matter of keeping the arms and ammunition was entrusted to Changma.

The police are trying to trace the whereabouts of Changma to know whether there were any other places in and around Laban where more arms and ammunition were hidden.

Other letters, also written in Assamese, include various details of expenditure incurred by Rajkhowa, besides the daily accounts on maintenance of camps. Among the documents, bomb-making literature was also found.

East Khasi Hills superintendent of police A.R. Mawthoh said some students who were on the school ground last evening noticed some people hurriedly leaving a suitcase near the stage.

The students informed the members of Khasi Students Union, who in turn told the police. When the police searched the suitcase, they found two wireless sets, three grenades, and some documents, which included mostly letters mentioning the name of Dristi Rajkhowa. The fuse of the grenades had already been removed and kept separately.

After noticing some plastic material, part of which was hidden, the police further dug the ground under the permanent stage of the school and found two rusted two AK-47 rifles and 125 rounds of live ammunition and six magazines.

Mawthoh said Ulfa had kept the arms and ammunition hidden in the area for more than a year.

“These are so-called “reserve weapons” which cadres of the outfit had kept, meant for future use,” he said.

According to Mawthoh, it was a normal practice for militants to hide arms and ammunition to be taken out at a convenient time.

Yesterday’s haul has prompted the police to keep vigil to thwart the attempt of Ulfa militants to use Shillong as a safe hideout.

The police are also looking into the activities of Ulfa leader Rajkhowa, who is behind arranging shipment of arms, ammunition and explosives from Bangladesh through Garo hills.

The operative head of Ulfa’s 109 battalion, Rajkhowa is also a close aide of Ulfa chief Paresh Barua.

He also assists the Ulfa cadres to move out from Bangladesh and reach Assam through the Garo hills border.

Known as an explosives expert, he was involved in many attacks.

In 2000, after a Ulfa hideout was busted in East Garo Hills, the police had recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition. He was also wounded in police firing.

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