SILCHAR: Indians are once again the target of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). Compelled by pecuniary conditions, they have preferred to engage themselves in all sorts of hardy manual works in Assam, besides being involved in sundry business. They have been contributing in their own way towards the development of the state. In fact, the Hindi-speaking people are a humble mighty labour force of Assam and have assimilated themselves with Assamese culture and traditions.
Why are these innocent people butchered? Till date 72 of them have been killed in the districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh and 30 others injured. The slaughter revived memories of a similar carnage in 2003 by ULFA. The outfit in its mouthpiece, Swadhinta, recently stated that infiltration from ?mainland India? is more dangerous than the ?so-called infiltration from Bangladesh,? exposing its besieged mindset. In reality, ULFA has been lambasted by the influential All Assam Students? Union (ASSU) and larger intellectual sections for its silence on the illegal migrants from Bangladesh who now count 50 lakh plus of the total population.
Immediate cause of ULFA'sbrutal action was the opinion poll conducted by an NGO, Assam Public Works, in the nine districts of the state which thumped down the sovereignty dream of the outfit. About 95.53 per cent of the 25,64,128 people interviewed by the NGO which included members of ULFA cadres? families rebuffed the outfit'sdivisive and secessionist agenda.
ULFA has reasons to see red. ULFA leaders cooling their heels in the cozy comfort of Dhaka are desperate to protect their bases in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The latest address of the outfit'sCommander in Chief Paresh Barua is 25/2 Green Road, Dhanmandi, Dhaka-1205. After the 2003 carnage, Indian security forces went all hog and dismantled the bases of ULFA.
The Myanmarese and Indian forces have launched joint operations in Myanmar. Obviously, in lieu of protection in Bangladesh, ULFA has to protect Bangladeshis and target Indians. Sammujjal Bhattacharjee, North-East Students? Organisation supremo and AASU chief adviser, hit the nail right when he said, ?ULFA'sbloody drive against the Hindi-speaking people is to create room for Bangladeshis.?
MPs of Assam also concurred ?the sinister motive of the outfit is to remove Indian workers and fill in their places with Bangladeshis.? It needs no repetition that ULFA is completely in the grip of ISI of Pakistan and Director General of Forces Intelligence of Bangladesh. It can hardly act independently.
But, the intriguing question behind this macabre orgy is: Why should the Hindi-speaking poeple alone be targeted? They were in no way connected with the opinion poll conducted so far. And the two districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh where they have been killed have not yet been brought under the poll. This xenophobic campaign can be linked to the north-east militants? common perception of Delhi being the seat of colonial rulers elected mostly from the heartland of the country.
The irony is that the Centre and the state decide to act after the carnage. The Unified Command has now been activated and licensed to kill from air and ground. But, counter insurgency veterans say no offensive will succeed unless ULFA'scamps in Bangladesh are smashed. New Delhi does not have the courage to act like Israel. A.K. Antony, Defence Minister, and Shriprakash Jaiswal, Union Minister of State for Home, have no answer to media'shot-chase policy. The Centre has been talking of modernisation of police forces for the last one decade to deal with terrorists. A senior police officer in Guwahati said, ?Our men with 303 rifles are no match for militants with AK-47 and 56 guns?. The north-east has abundant shocking instances of it. The most disturbing development now being unfolded in the course of army operation is that the rank and file of ULFA is being filled with Islamic militant recruits under assumed Hindu names.
After all the bloodbath, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh took more than a week to visit Assam, his home constituency. His heart bled for the people killed but his seal of assent on the military course of action with Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister, at the head of the Unified Command, does raise question about its efficacy.
Better options should have been to blast away ULFA'sbases in Bangladesh, choke all internal sources of funding, break emotional and political nexus and whip up the surge of anti-ULFA sentiments through massive campaign while keeping open the door for dialogue. It is through psychological warfare that ULFA isolated from the masses can be beaten.
(The author can be contacted at [email protected])