In a joint operation on Wednesday, the 9th Battalion of the Rajputana Rifles and Dibrugarh Police nabbed two linkmen belonging to the anti-talk faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) from Chaulkhowa area of Dibrugarh district.
During the operation, demonetised Indian currency notes worth Rs 42.5 lakh were also seized after being recovered from the possession of the nabbed ULFA-I linkmen.
The two ULFA-I linkmen have been identified as 41-year-old Binod Sahani, a resident of Doomdooma town in Tinsukia district and 49-year-old Shrishti Hazarika of Tinsukia town.
With the consignment of the banned currency notes, the duo was going from Moran to Chabua in Dibrugarh district on a motorcycle when they were apprehended by the joint team on the NH-37 at Chaulkhowa, 3 km from Dibrugarh town.
“The two ULFA-I linkmen had collected the demonitised notes from a Moran-based businessman and they were supposed to hand over the consignment to another over-ground worker of the banned outfit at Chabua. After converting it to legal currency they were suppose to hand it over to the banned outfit at an undisclosed location at Doomdooma,” a press release stated.
Meanwhile, the duo is being grilled by senior police officials at Dibrugarh Police Station to identify the trail of the banned currency notes and also ascertain if any bank personnel were involved in the racket, considering the huge sum it is suspected that there might have some plans to change it to legal tender.
Police suspect that the recovered amount was a part of a large cash stash of the ULFA-I which could not be converted into legal money after the sudden ban on high-value currency notes by the Centre on November 8, 2016.
Sources said all major militant groups from the Northeast including the ULFA-I were hit hard by the Government’s decision which made the high-value currency notes defunct overnight. In recent times, several nabbed ULFA-I cadres have reportedly revealed that the outfit has been facing severe fund crisis after demonetisation.
Still facing the heat of demonetisation, the militant outfit has been trying to recoup their losses by indulging in mass extortion targetting the business community and tea planters, especially in the upper Assam districts.
The security forces have intensified counter-insurgency operation against the rebel group in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts and so far, they have nabbed many ULFA-I cadres from upper Assam.
The top brass of the ULFA-I have reportedly instructed the outfit’s cadres to speed up extortion drive the upper Assam areas.