New Delhi: Paresh Baruah, the military chief of the banned outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), seems to be enjoying hospitality in China as his presence in the neighbouring country has been confirmed by the arrested head of a Manipuri militant group.
United National Liberation Front (UNLF) chief RK Sanayaima alias Meghen, arrested last month in Bihar by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), confessed during interrogation that he had met the elusive 'commander-in-chief' of ULFA during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Highly-placed sources said the Manipuri militant leader also told NIA investigators that both of them had intensive talks in Shanghai about the activities of the two outfits, future plans, arms procurement, and the casualties suffered during the offensive launched by security forces.
The Shanghai World Expo was held between May 1 to October 31, 2010.
Sources said 54-year-old Baruah has been mostly based in Yunnan province of China bordering Myanmar but he frequents northern Myanmar's Kachin areas.
Interestingly, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had informed the Rajya Sabha last month that India had taken up with China the issue of Baruah's presence in that country in the wake of reports that Chinese authorities have issued a visa to him.
"Government has seen media reports of such visit. The matter was taken up with the Chinese side, which has denied his presence in China...," Krishna had said.
The ULFA leader, against whom an Interpol Red corner notice was issued on February 14, 1997, has been steadfastly opposed to any peace dialogue with the government to bring a lasting peace in insurgency-hit Assam, even though most of his colleagues including 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa are ready for talks.
Centre's interlocutor PC Haldar on Wednesday indicated that the dialogue with the ULFA may begin in the next few weeks as the government and the outfit's leadership were inching closer to start the parleys.
Rajkhowa, after a meeting with Haldar on Thursday appealed to the government to facilitate extradition of ULFA's general secretary Anup Chetia from Bangladesh in the interest of the peace talks.
Though Rajkhowa was mum about Baruah's participation in dialogue, Haldar said, "It is not about holding talks with Paresh Baruah or anybody else. For us we are holding talks with the ULFA, not with individuals."