Human rights activist’s arrest hints at Maoist-Ulfa links?

NEW DELHI: Home minster P Chidambaram may have denied material evidence of Maoist-Ulfa cooperation, but the recent arrest of human rights activist and suspected CPI Maoist “mole” Pallab Borbora by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) hints at such a nexus.

The NIA arrested Borbora, a prominent human rights activist who was earlier associated with Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS), last Monday from Assam’s Golaghat district, where he runs a private school. The agency has accused him of spreading Maoist influence in Assam and playing a role in forging collaboration between the banned outfit and Manipur’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

However, within hours of his arrest, the Paresh Baruah-led faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) released a statement condemning Borbora’s arrest and described him as a human rights activist who fought state oppression.

Sources said it was a reciprocation of the open support earlier extended by Upper Assam Leading Committee of CPI Maoist (which Borbora is a part of) to Baruah. “The CPI (Maoist) has issued several statements in the recent past giving moral support to Baruah’s cause,” said an official privy to these developments.

Borbora was once himself known to be close to ULFA, but later joined the CPI (Maoist) and is known be a close associate of Maoist leader Aditya Bora. One of the founder members of ULFA, Bora joined the Maoists a few years ago and was arrested in February last year by Odisha Police from Jharkhand where he was imparting arms training to Maoists. He was recently released on bail and has been absconding since then.

Borbora and Bora, sources said, have been constantly making efforts to develop CPI (Maoist) ties with all secessionist elements in the region.

An official said, “There are indications of links between ULFA and Maoists, but there is as yet no material evidence to put on record or make a statutory case.” Sources in the security establishment at the Centre too agree that that there has been a moral and material support to CPI (Maoist) from ULFA.

Intelligence agencies have often given inputs about growing cooperation between CPI (Maoist) and ULFA apart from outfits such as UNLF, NSCN (IM) and PLA. Only last year, addressing a meet in Shillong, the Joint Intelligence Committee chief Ajit Lal said that the CPI (Maoist) and the PLA were in the process of finalizing details of a “strategic United Front”- against their “common enemy”, the Indian government. Lal said both of them had proposed to incorporate all revolutionary secessionist groups operating in the north- east and Jammu and Kashmir and that the concept of the front was to be finalized by early this year.

Not surprisingly, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi stressed last Wednesday on a link between ULFA and CPI (Maoist) despite Chidambaram disagreeing. Gogoi said, “Let him say that. He has got his own sources, I have my own (sources),” he told reporters in New Delhi.

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