GUWAHATI, Dec 8 - The fate of hardcore United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) leader, Drishti Rajkhowa, who surrendered recently, is yet to be decided and he is now kept in a �safe house� by Assam police. It is not yet known whether he will join the peace process and what steps will be taken on the cases registered against him.
Police sources told The Assam Tribune that Rajkhowa started feeling the heat after the surrender of most of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) leaders as he used to operate mostly from the camps of the Garo outfit. He frequented between Garo Hills of Meghalaya and Bangladesh by taking advantage of the porous international border. However, whenever he stayed in the villages, he posed as a coal trader or a betel nut trader, sources said.
Rajkhowa, alias Manoj Rabha, alias Garo Mama had an eventful life as a member of the militant outfit and he was even arrested in Bangladesh once. He joined the ULFA in 1989 and was sent to Myanmar for training in the headquarter of NSCN (K) for three months. He was trained in handling of explosives, followed by training on handling of wireless communication.
The ULFA leader was sent to Bangladesh in 1994, where he stayed with Paresh Baruah, the commander in chief of the outfit. He was arrested by Bangladesh police in 1995 but he came out on bail after five months. In June or July in 1996, he, along with seven other members of the outfit, was sent to Pakistan for training.
Police said that he was trained for two months in a place near Karachi and the chief instructor was a person called Khan Baba. After the training, he returned to Bangladesh and stayed in a camp located at Satsari.
In 1998, he was sent to Bhutan as a member of the �volcano group� of the outfit. However, in the last few years, he stayed mostly in Garo Hills of Meghalaya and visited Bangladesh frequently whenever operations were launched in Meghalaya.
Police sources said that the surrender of Rajkhowa would be a moral defeat for ULFA(I) and some other members of the outfit have sent feelers to police and security forces expressing their desire to come over ground. In fact, in 2019-20, around 60 militants have surrendered. Sources said that Rajkhowa was in touch with Paresh Baruah, but not on daily basis and according to his estimate, the total number of cadres of the outfit in Myanmar should be around 170 to 180, which tallied with the estimate of police and security forces.