Long before Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) launched secessionist movement in Assam to secede from Indian Union. The separatist group, since its inception, has advocated outsiders must leave Assam. The gory acts of the separatist group hark back on medieval bigotism, but its political vision is opportunistic; and is camouflaged in modernity.
According to ULFA, among the various problems that the people of Assam are confronting- the problem of national identity is the most basic, and therefore it seeks to represent “independent minded struggling people” irrespective of race, tribe, caste, religion and nationality. Yet, when they talk of outsiders, it only refers to Bengali settlers and does not mention the steady influx of Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam and rest of India.
There are several incidences when the organsiation has attacked Bihari and Bengali Hindus but has not attacked Muslim Bangladeshis who have not only marginalised the locals but have also taken the jobs of the sons of the soil. The separatist group has intentionally looked the other way, because of which the illegal influx of the Muslim Bangladeshis has put pressure on the limited resources of Assam and has altered the demographic character of the state. Interestingly, the grand vision of ULFA is camouflaged. It believes in the unity of the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations and nationalities all over the world, but unfortunately it has not spoken in favour of free Tibet till date- they’ve not given any statement on the killings in China’s restive Xingjian region.
ULFA’s young leadership which launched a secessionist movement initially (07April1979) was inspired by the socialist era. In their enthusiasm for armed struggle against Indian Union they could not foresee, or maybe conveniently tried to overlook the rise of Islamic militants and radicalisation of every Islamic country in the world.
Today, the time has changed. The cold war had come to an end with the fall of USSR. Germany was unified. Iraq invaded Kuwait and was pounded by US. Mumbai was rocked in 1992. The horrific 9/11 terror attack happened in America that saw the rise of Al-Qaeda-led terrorism. Invaded Iraq on the pretext to destroy Saddam’s chemical arsenal and ended up executing him. Islamic terrorists carried out terrorist attacks in the major cities of India from time to time in which ISI had a major role to play. China has become ambitious and has staked its claim, time and again, over Arunachal Pradesh and is also in conflict with its neighbours in the South China Sea. Spring Revolution shook the Middle East. Muslim Brotherhood formed government in Egypt after violent clashes and was dislodged by the Egyptian army. And now the world is witnessing ISIS brutality in Iraq- a kind unheard in recent times.
Today, ISIS has become a powerful force and is in control of areas in Syria and Iraq larger than Great Britain.
If reports are to be believed many Muslims from India have joined the ISIS. This development is of major concern for India and must be for ULFA too. When Iraq was invaded in early 90s in the last century, many Bangladeshis named their new born sons as Saddam. This was one of the first serious signs of radicalisation of Bangladeshi society. The Bangladeshi Muslims gave enough proof that they were also ready to forge a bond with the Muslim cause just like Kashmiri Muslims, who had come on the streets of the Kashmir valley to mourn the death of Pakistan dictator Zia-ul-Haq in a plane crash. It is a fact, over the years, Bangladesh has been radicalised. Hardly a day passes when Hindus’ properties are not attacked and their religious places are desecrated and burnt by the Islamic fundamentalists. This is happening when India played an important role in the freedom of Bangladesh.
It will be naive on the part of ULFA to continue its struggle against the Indian government. The day is not far when illegal Muslims in Assam will be inspired and joined by global Jihadists and Hindu-Assamese will become refugees in their own country, just like Kashmiri Pundits.
RSS has raised its concerns from time to time over the influx of illegal Muslim Bangladeshis not only in Assam but in other parts of India. In Delhi, BJP led NDA is in power and ULFA and people of Assam must make the most of it. They must join hands with RSS to identify and push back these illegal Muslim migrants into Bangladesh. It is high time for the separatist organisation to give up its demand to secede and join the main stream politics. The need of time for gen-x of Assam is to rise, shape its own future and replace the ideologically bankrupt ULFA’s leadership, if it does not mend its ways.
— Manoj Sharma