ULFA chief Rajkhowa produced in Guwahati court, breaks down

ULFA chief Rajkhowa produced in Guwahati court, breaks down

ULFA fighters. File photoThe three were produced at the Chief Magistrate's Court at 5.25 p.m. All three were handcuffed while being taken to court.

It was an emotional scene at the 4th Assam Police Battalion headquarters guest house as 53-year-old Rajkhowa, one of India's most wanted fugitives, parted from his wife Kaveri, 41, daughter Khamchen, 13, and five-year-old son Gadadhar.

"It was an emotional parting at the guest house with Rajkhowa, his wife and their two children hugging each other and all of them in sobs before he was taken away to the court," a senior Assam police officer said.

"Rajkhowa kissed his two children many times," the officer added.
Rajkhowa, until then "calm and composed", suddenly broke down realizing that he might be in prison for long years if peace talks with the government didn't work out.

"After observing him for the better part of Friday, I got a feeling that Rajkhowa is a family man and very attached to his wife and children. He is very weak when it came to family matters, but mentally very strong when it came to his political views," the officer said, requesting anonymity.

Rajkhowa, who studied till class 12, faces several criminal charges ranging from murder to kidnapping and extortion, with the maximum penalty being the death sentence, according to Assam police.
Similar emotional scenes were witnessed when ULFA deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah met his family - wife Nirola, 30, and 10-month-old daughter Hemacheta.

"Raju hugged his wife and then cradled the infant for a long time and kissed her several times before getting into the police vehicle that took them to the court," the officer said.

The two ULFA leaders and Rajkhowa's personal security guard Raja Bora were taken out in a convoy escorted by heavy security to the court around 5 p.m. Saturday from the guest house.
While Rajkhowa and Baruah were arrested, no charges were framed against their family members.

Both the militamt leaders would now be lodged separately for interrogation until the time they are in police remand, while their families would stay at the police guest house for some days for security reasons.
On Friday, Rajkhowa and Baruah, with their families, Rajkhowa's personal security guard Raja Bora, and wife of ULFA "foreign secretary" Sasha Choudhury surrendered before Indian authorities at Dawki in Meghalaya.

"We would seek 14 days police remand of the three arrested ULFA members before the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court," a senior Assam police officer said.

On Friday, the ULFA chairman led a dramatic surrender before Indian authorities at Dawki in Meghalaya.

Among those who surrendered include Rajkhowa, his wife Kaveri and two children, Raju Baruah, his wife and one child, Raja Bora, and the wife of ULFA foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and their son.

The surrendered ULFA leaders and their family members were brought to Guwahati by a helicopter and lodged at the fourth Assam Police Battalion headquarters in the city.

The wives and children who surrendered were not arrested and no charges were framed against them, another police officer said.

"Family members of Arabinda Rajkhowa and Raju Baruah (deputy commander-in-chief) have approached us for legal help and we are providing them legal assistance," Bijon Mahajan, a senior lawyer in Guwahati, said.

A senior police officer who met the ULFA leaders at the police guest house Friday described the ULFA chairman as a "highly composed and calm" person.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi welcomed the surrender and said the decision by Rajkhowa to come out could pave the way for lasting peace in the state.

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