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Baruah is Islamicised (Interview with G.K. Pillai)

Baruah is Islamicised (Interview with G.K. Pillai)

Author: Payal Saxena
Publication: The Week
Date: December 13, 2009
URL: http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?sectionName=Current+Events&contentId=6397794&programId=1073754900&pageTypeId=1073754893&contentType=EDITORIAL&BV_ID=@@@

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai is in a celebratory mood. The arrest of ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, many feel, will go a long way towards bringing peace to the troubled northeast. "It all happened so suddenly; it even took the government by surprise," Pillai told THE WEEK. Excerpts from an interview:

Q.: Is this the beginning of the end of ULFA?
A.: It is very early to say anything. Some more people have to be nabbed. It all happened so fast, nobody realised what was coming. Paresh Baruah is hiding along the Myanmar border and we may take some time to nab him. What is most important is that the people of Assam do not want any more violence and are not willing to give ULFA any more mileage. This could sound a death knell for ULFA.
Many more arrests from all terrorist groups who have found safe havens in Bangladesh will be made in the next four to five months.

Q.: Will peace talks be held with ULFA and when?
A.: We have to wait for two to three weeks. They need to suspend their operations in order to talk to us, which I think they will. The feelers may start coming in from January after the Parliament session is over.

Q.: Will Baruah try to reorganise the group?
A.: Yes. They will try to appoint new members. Like always, he will try to appoint a new chairman, a new finance secretary, just to show us that they are not down and out. But it is not easy to replace somebody who has been with the group for 25 years. Restructuring may take place on paper but cannot be implemented.

Q.: ULFA has links with the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Is there a possibility of them aiding Baruah to launch attacks against India?
A.: Yes. That they will do. Baruah himself is Islamicised. His children do the namaz five times a day. His wife probably dresses as an Assamese when she goes out but follows Islam. But Baruah does not have a future in Assam. Therefore, even if he attacks, it will not have an impact. The people of Assam will not pardon him for what he has done. They know that through the years, all that he has done is mint money to launch businesses in Bangladesh. He never really followed the ideology of sovereignty.

Q.: Will Baruah be concentrating on his safety and business?
A.: He has invested over $4 million in Bangladesh and had access to arms and money in ULFA, being the commander-in-chief. Also, he has the support of the establishment and separatists who will help him and support him as they also get a lot in return. But he will still try to extort money and launch random attacks in ULFA's name.

Q.: On what will the talks be based when Sheikh Hasina visits India? Will we be signing an extradition treaty?
A.: We do not need to sign the extradition treaty as our purpose is being served anyway. The talks will concern transfer of sentenced criminals, mutual assistance along the border and cooperation in tackling terrorist activities.

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