Battered by Indian military operations, Assamese insurgents are relocating to Bhutan.
Following major Indian military offensives, the United Liberation Front of Assam Paresh Barua-led faction is relocating its base of operations to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan’s southern regions, where densely forested region obscures activities, reported the online edition of United Press International (UPI), Tuesday.
The region’s dense vegetation cover provides geographical contiguity and proximity to the insurgents to the jungles of India’s eastern Assam province. Since 2003 the Indian military has operated in conjunction with the Bhutanese army in pressing ULFA guerrillas, beginning with Operation “All Clear”.
The operation was launched because of military reports that ULFA, along with several other insurgent groups from northeastern India, established up to 30 guerrilla camps in southern Bhutan’s Samdrup Jongkhar district, capable of sustaining nearly 3,500 insurgents.
ULFA’s leadership is split with Arabinda Rajkhowa leading a faction negotiating with the Indian government, while Paresh Barua heads a faction that remains steadfastly opposed to talks with New Delhi unless sovereignty for Assam is also discussed, according to the report.
Indian intelligence agencies report that that Barua controls hundreds of heavily armed fighters ULFA and divides his time between ULFA camps on the China-Myanmar border and in Myanmar’s Sagaing province, while he reportedly also has close connections to China’s intelligence agencies.