Serial blasts in Assam have strengthened intelligence agencies’ suspicion that jihadis — especially
Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami (HuJI) — are increasingly using northeast-based terror outfits to carry out attacks in the region.
“We had information that HuJI-Bangladesh was using northeast underground bases in Bangladesh to trigger blasts. In Agartala, they used All Tripura Tiger Force and we have suspicion that in Assam they used Ulfa,” said an intelligence officer.
Assam police, too, aren’t naming Ulfa as the sole suspect, they eyes are on HuJI. The Assam government has reports about Ulfa and jihadi elements planning strikes, either jointly or independently, said CM Tarun Gogoi on Thursday.
According to a senior Army officer in Kolkata, the blasts could have been set off by HuJI-B with the help of Ulfa’s 709 Battalion, based in Lower Assam. Ulfa had been lying low for some time, but it has an axe to grind since two companies of its 28 Battalion based in Upper Assam decided to opt for talks with the government. “A major incident will help them establish Ulfa as still a potent force and unite its various divisions.”
Ulfa has denied its involvement in the blasts. “We have sympathies for the dead and the injured,” Ulfa ‘lieutenant’ Anjan Barthakur said in a statement in Guwahati, adding that it was the “handiwork of security forces to divert attention from the (alleged) rape at Rowta in Udalguri”.
Intelligence sources say Ulfa, KLO and ATTF — all are now based in Bangladesh — have been working as natural allies in their ‘fight against Indian authorities’. In late 2000, they started building relations with HuJI-B. Ulfa has developed contacts with some newly-formed Islamic fundamentalist outfits in Assam as well.
One of them, Muslim United Liberation Front of Asom, is used to smuggle arms from Bangladesh. There were also reports that HuJI-B had developed a nexus with Manipur outfits like PREPAK and were trying to develop contacts with PLA and UNLF also.