Indian fugitive insurgency leader traced to China, say reports

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    Indian fugitive insurgency leader traced to China, say reports

    Bangladeshi court sentenced Assam separatist Paresh Barua to death by hanging last Thursday

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    The long-time fugitive leader of an armed separatist movement in India’s State of Assam has been traced to China, a leading Indian newspaper reported on Monday.

    Paresh Barua, the commander-in-chief of the United Liberation Front of Asom, a group fighting for the independence of the northeast Indian state of 30 million people for more than three decades, is thought to be hiding in a border-town in Yunnan Province, two leading newspapers reported, citing intelligence sources.

    Barua, 56, has been traced to Ruili, China’s largest border hub with Myanmar, thanks to a phone call intercepted by Indian intelligence, The Times of India said on Monday. He made the call to a deputy living across the border in the neighbouring country formerly known as Burma over fears of a security leak by a defector in the insurgent group.

    Members of ULFA had long found shelter with Myanmese militant groups and source weapons from China, India’s most widely read English-language paper said. The prominent insurgent is wanted both in India and Bangladesh.



    “Barua has been living in the Chinese town, possibly with a woman friend, for the past two years,” it said, citing intelligence sources. “His wife and two sons live in Bangladesh.”

    Another leading newspaper, the Hindustan Times, said Barua had moved from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka to Ruili as early as 2010, citing India’s former Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai.


    Paresh Barua seen in an Indian archive photo.

    Barua is among the last leading members of the separatist movement to be on the run. Last Thursday, a special court in Bangladesh’s second-largest city Chittagong sentenced him in absentia to death by hanging for an attempt to smuggle ten truckloads of arms and munition into India in 2004.

    Barua slipped out of Bangladesh in 2006, when peace talks with the Indian government collapsed.

    Ever since, reports on hideouts in China and accusations of acquiescence by Chinese authorities continue to re-emerge. In 2009, ULFA’s Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah were captured at the Indian-Bangladeshi border. They admitted to procuring weapons from Chinese dealers, Indian newspaper reports said at the time.

    The new reports come only a week ahead of a new round of negotiations between the world’s two most populous nations over their disputed border in the Himalayas. Diplomats are expected to once again skirt around the status of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, largely claimed by China as a part of Tibet.

    Barua’s insurgent group’s increased presence in the disputed territory has caused concerns in India, The Times of India reported. “It also raises questions if Chinese agencies have any role in this new pursuit of the insurgent groups,” the report said.

    For D S Rajan, director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, a leading think tank of Sino-Indian relations based in the capital of Tamil Nadu, the report has to be treated with caution. "It is China's official policy that they do not support insurgency groups in India," he said.

    However, "if these reports are correct, they would raise some serious questions on why he is allowed to live in China," he added.

    The press section of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi could not be reached for comment on Monday.

    Indian fugitive insurgency leader traced to China, say reports | South China Morning Post
     
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