GUWAHATI, Sep 25 (IANS): At least 19 top separatist commanders of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), including rebel commander Anu Buragohain, who were arrested in Bangladesh and later handed over to Indian authorities, were Saturday brought to Assam, officials said.
There is, however, confusion with the Assam Police and union home ministry officials claiming the ULFA rebels had "surrendered" and are keen to join the peace process.
"There is no question of arrests as they came on their own and are ready to join the peace process," a senior Assam Police official said, requesting not to be named.
Earlier, Indian intelligence officials said the arrests were made from ULFA bases inside Bangladesh Wednesday and they were later handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) somewhere along the border with Meghalaya.
The rebels, now in police custody in Guwahati, include top names like rebel commander Anu Buragohain, Bhaiti Baruah, Biju Deka and Pradyut Buragohain. Nine family members of the rebels were also arrested.
Self-styled ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah confirmed the development, but said the 20-odd rebels fled the camp and are presently taking shelter in an "enemy camp".
"Some of our cadres with their family members fled the camp with the help of Indian intelligence agencies and also with the active support of two of our senior jailed leaders and are now taking shelter in the enemy camp," the ULFA commander-in-chief said in an e-mailed statement.
"We are not at all demoralized by their action."
The police official said: "There is no question of the ULFA members being produced before the court as technically they were not arrested as they came on their own."
Dhaka last year launched a massive crackdown against the ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and got several of their top leaders arrested and later handed them over to India.
Among those arrested in last year's crackdown include ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, and finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika.
NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary was also arrested in May and later handed over to India.