ULFA(I)’s top gun Drishti Rajkhowa (originally Manoj Rabha) has surrendered.
The deputy-commander-in-chief of ULFA (I) was cornered in a gunbattle with police and commandoes on Wednesday afternoon.
His surrender followed a 30-minute gunbattle after which he gave up, realising his chances of escape were dim.
Police cornered him near Bolbogkre village in South Garo Hills with a team from SF-10 commandoes throwing a tight cordon around the area of the gunbattle.
According to reports, the ULFA(I) leader surrendered along with four other cadres of the outfit.
Rajkhowa had been crisis crossing the India-Bangladesh border, giving a slip to security forces on both sides for the last three months.
He was spotted around Jaflong last month when the Pakistan High Commissioner in Dhaka, Imran Siddique was apparently vacationing in a resort in that area.
There was however no confirmation of the two meeting up but Indian intelligence has reports that the Pakistan defence attache in Dhaka, Brigadier Ejaz has been setting up meetings with rebel leaders from Northeast in recent months.
Ejaz is close to a local academic who edits a defence journal in a Bangladesh military college and is known for his strong Pakistani leanings and his enthusiasm in the revival of insurgencies in Northeast.
Dristhi rose to become the closest confidante of ULFA (I) military wing chief Paresh Barua after desertions from the rebel ranks left the Muttock warlord with little options but to promote him.
From being the commander of ULFA’s 709 battalion operating in western Assam and Meghalaya, Dristhi was made deputy commander-in-chief.
Being a Rabha himself and with a Garo wife, his kinship network stood him in good stead all these years in the area of his operation.
Bangladesh intelligence was specially worried because Rajkhowa had explosive skills and could target the Bibiyana gas fields in Sylhet region to avenge the crackdown by the Hasina government.
Indian intelligence who have closely worked with their counterparts in the neighbouring country
said this was a huge breakthrough in the battle against insurgency.