The public outrage against the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is increasing. Moreover, the anger is propelled distinctively from the family members of the victims (of insurgency) in Assam.
The last week of April witnessed such a demonstration against the ULFA leaders where hundreds of insurgency victims came out to the streets of Guwahati. The family members of the victims, who were either killed or kidnapped by ULFA cadres, assembled in Dispur, the political capital of Assam and accused the militants for their fate.
Organised by Assam Public Works (APW), a non-government organisation formed with the relatives of ULFA victims, the protest rally witnessed participation of nearly 200 family members, who became victims of ULFA excesses in the last two and half decades.
?The family members of the victims have come out to ask the ULFA leaders for an explanation regarding the killings and whereabouts of those kidnapped (who are still untraced) by the militant outfit till date,? said Abhijeet Sarma, the man behind APW.
The anti-militant organisation has not only asked the militant outfit, to stop atrocities on innocent people immediately, but also insisted on the revelation of convincing information regarding those kidnapped by the outfit. Failing which, the APW chief warned, the outfit would have to face a state-wide massive demonstration in the coming days.
Public apathy to the armed terrorists had already made the outfit clueless. The armed outfit tried recently to take advantage of the situation, where six wives of missing ULFA rebels continued a ?fast unto death? for more than a month, but it failed miserably.
The outfit, which doesn'trecognise Indian Constitution even called for a 12-hour Assam bandh (recognised as a democratic mean for agitation) on April 4 protesting against the ?atrocities? on them (Menaka Chetia, Anima Debi, Malini Ingtipi, Kabita Chakrabarty, Shyamali Gogoi and Juri Neog) by the state police. However, the banned organisation could not garner significant civil society support.
The outfit'schief made a calculated effort to attract the attention of local populace through the bandh (strike) call. The wives of ULFA leaders launched the indefinite fast on March 21 demanding to know the whereabouts of their missing spouses. Those six ULFA leaders (Ashanta Baghphukan, Robin Neog, Benning Rabha, Nilu Chakrabarty, Ponaram Dihingia and Naba Changmai) went on missing soon after the Bhutan operation against the militants.
During the ?Operation All Clear? in December 2003, the Royal Bhutan Army (with outside support from Indian armed forces) demolished all the hideouts belonged to ULFA and also Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and National Democratic Front of Bodoland inside the thick jungles of southern Bhutan. All the six rebel leaders were allegedly arrested by the Royal Bhutan Army and then handed over to Indian authorities.
The fasting women were arrested on March 30 and shifted to Guwahati Medical College Hospital for check-up and nasal feeding. The ULFA leaders then alleged police atrocities on them. The month-long agitational programme of those women was withdrawn on April 26 following a formal letter from Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi requesting them to call off their fast. Shri Gogoi reiterated that his government had already submitted all relevant information regarding the missing ULFA leaders to the court.
The peace initiative in Assam has been deadlocked since early September last year. While the Centre insists on an official letter from ULFA for direct talks, the latter demands release of Pradip Gogoi, Bhimkanta Buragohain, Mithingia Daimary, Pranati Deka and Ramu Mech before talks.
When the prospect of direct talks faded, the Centre resumed the counter-insurgency operation on September 24 after which the ULFA-appointed People'sConsultative Group pulled out of the peace process. The PCG had three rounds of talks with the government and the fourth one was to be a face-to-face dialogue.
Meanwhile, the outfit lost a group of eight hardcore rebels in a single day encounter with the security forces in Arunachal Pradesh. The incident took place on April 10, where armed forces, employed in the counter-insurgency operation in Northeast India retaliated the shoot-outs from the hiding ULFA militants in the jungles of Arunachal. It is termed as the biggest setback to ULFA after the Bhutan operation.