ULFA is to Bangladesh what the D-company is to Pakistan
Arabinda Rajkhowa and Paresh Barua are not holed out in Bangladesh. They are living it up. Just like Dawood Ibrahim and company, who came to dominate the Karachi underworld after they were given refuge by the Pakistani government in the early 1990s, ULFA has grown into one of Bangladesh’s most important criminal-terrorist rackets under the protection of the DGFI. Like the D-Company, ULFA has a wonderful working relationship with the Pakistani ISI. And like the D-Company, ULFA is a useful instrument in the hands of the local military establishment to serve political ends—from financing political campaigns to providing hit-men for carrying out assassinations. The recent revelation that ULFA cadre may have carried out the attacks that claimed the life of Ivy Rahman, an member of Bangladesh’s Awami League party should come as no surprise. Indeed, Dhaka’s official enquiry had insinuated that foreign terrorists had carried out the attacks, in league with local elements ‘who could not be named’.
It is not known whether either Rajkhowa and Barua have married off their children to those of Bangladeshi cricketers, but otherwise, the parallel is remarkable. It also suggests that the UPA government’s policy about inviting the ULFA leadership for negotiations is about as sensible as inviting Dawood Ibrahim for discussions on communal harmony in Mumbai. As the Assam Tribune puts it, ULFA stands isolated. People don’t care much for its separatist agenda. What they do care about is illegal immigration from Bangladesh, an issue on which both the Congress party and ULFA find themselves on the same side. That’s why they want to talk.