Once a fine football player, in fact, one of the best that Assam ever produced, Paresh Baruah has become an enigma over the last decades. Three decades ago, he was chosen as the head of the armed wing of the much dreaded United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in spite of being the youngest of the original founders of the outfit. This was because of certain capabilities which he exhibited strongly during those days. Using those skills, with time, he developed a military strategy that ran rings around Assam Police, Paramilitary groups, and even the Indian army. Today, he is quoted as a hard nut, a merciless rebel highly esteemed in the International spree. Yet, he is more infamous than popular in the current situation. As you read the below, you would probably have a better understanding of why it is so.
According to an ULFA leader and close aide of their C-in-C, Paresh Baruah is a dishonest person which beats all of his positive characteristics. He has almost other characteristics required for being a military head of an armed outfit; such as toughness, strictness with ideology and certain principles, making no exceptions, and sticking to the book. A fact unknown to most people, Paresh Baruah is a good writer also as well. Unlike the way he has been often wrongly portrayed by the media, Baruah had a sound academic start to his career securing letter marks (distinction) in his 10th and 12th; however, he was unable to continue with his studies due to poverty and joined a low-grade job of Indian Railway. But the most important trait required for a leader – honesty, is missing within him. According to sources closely associated with Paresh Baruah, it is due to his dishonesty that he has taken many foolish decisions. Whether it is about denying the Dhemaji Bomb blast that killed children (admitted and apologized for by ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa early this year) or making false claims to take credit, Baruah’s traits of dishonesty as a rebel leader are well frowned upon amongst many in the outfit.
Paresh Baruah’s other negative trait is his lack of goodwill for others. Many times, his subordinates are reported to have felt that their C-in-C did not help them in times of need although he could have. He is also known to be foul-mouthed and insults people so bad at times that people get hurt emotionally. Often his curtly remarks have come when there was no need for one or even without any proof.
One more reason why Paresh Baruah never became a people’s leader is his mistrust. In his quest to remain untraceable from security forces, Baruah rarely trusted anyone around him. In addition, if any of his subordinates or ULFA cadres are arrested, Paresh Baruah very often mistrusted them as traitors even if the concerned arrested cadre was actually loyal to the outfit and undergoes years of hardship in Jail later on. Strangely, in spite of not trusting anyone, Baruah brought gifts for his cadres whenever he comes back from a foreign visit or visit any camp, which was much appreciated.
People who have seen Paresh Baruah well praise and complain about one thing in common, – his simplicity, but his inability to make his wife and son follow the same simplicity. The way Baruah dresses or lives is known to be of a very simple man, down to earth. Probably, if he moves around in the streets of Assam, he could go unrecognized due to his simplicity in dressing and living standards. But it is said that his wife, Boby Bhuyan Baruah, and his two sons Tahsan Ankur Khan Sunlee & Akash Khan Wanlee display completely opposite characteristics. They enjoy living a lavish life, believes in glam and glitter, and are known to be jealous of others’ living style which they try to imitate. This has affected the reputation of Baruah himself in the outfit. Though a personal matter, many insiders in the outfit lament that Baruah was not able to make his family maintain the same simplicity that he could; and that it has affected lots of his cadres living amidst hardships in jungles and mountains.
Paresh Baruah has been able to hide from every intelligence agency in the world, despite being a Most Wanted. On one end when hardcore rebel leaders like Prabhakaran of LTTE or Bin Laden of Al-Qaeda could not escape from Intelligence and was traced, Baruah has been living in complete secrecy over the years – a trait which has bewildered the Government, the Intelligence agencies of the world throughout the years and the decade. But he has never been able to position himself as a true people’s leader, a revolutionary, and will never be able to become one because of all his negative characteristics elaborated above. Over the years, he becomes a shadow only who can kill; but is unable to be the torch that lights up a revolution.