Anup Chetia alias Golap Baruah, Foundation General Secretary of the United Liberation Front of Asom(ULFA) has been called by few sections of the Assamese society and media as the Nelson Mandela(!) of Assam, just because he had been in Jail for a long 17 years and waging a revolution. This section is hoping that Chetia will be able to bring the elusive peace to Assam, force Paresh Baruah and team who is still at large, and thereby solve all problems with a magic wand.
This may actually be far from truth as he is in reality been accused of several serious matters within the outfit, which he once himself co-formed in the early eighties. Anup Chetia, who was one of the most active co-founders of ULFA during the late eighties, is also accused of being a key reason for death of the then Deputy C-in-C Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta, on the night of December 31, 1991. Anup Chetia and Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa was in favor of talks with the Union Government of India led by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao while Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was heading the hardliner faction who was strictly against any negotiation or talks. Close aide of late Heerak Jyoti Mahanta disclosed to Times of Assam that although Indian Intelligence had clear evidence that Chetia was hiding in Dibrugarh University hostel on the same night when Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was picked up, Chetia was spared for being pro-talk where Mahanta had paid with his live. Later, after a meeting with Prime Minister Narashimha Rao, both Anup Chetia and Arabinda Rajkhowa had gone into hiding after facing stiff opposition internally within the organisation, especially from the strong District Committees of Nalbari, Nagaon, Darrang, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. It is also said that this spat way back in 1992 had went a long way in paving a difference of opinion between ULFA Chief-of-the-Staff Paresh Asom and Arabinda Rajkhowa factions.
It is often claimed that Anup Chetia had created different factions and rifts within the outfit during his tenure till 1997 when he got arrested in Dhaka. Unlike what is claimed, it is also stated that Chetia was actually released from Jail in 2004 itself after serving the actual term of seven years. In fact he had started writing articles in one Assamese Vernacular daily with a pseudo name of Anupam Saikia, as he was free. However unlike the rest of the leaders of the outfit, Chetia was a person fond of comfort and luxury. There was no way he could have stayed in Bangladesh comfortably after releasing from Jail and hence sought for Political asylum, as he had no intention of going back to the Jungle life with Paresh Baruah and other members. It is understood that Anup Chetia have last visited the Lakhipathar camp in late eighties as his single visit to jungle and post that period, he had been living a comfortable life in Dhaka till his arrest.
On the other hand, the ULFA[I] has reportedly already created a replacement position of a new General Secretary for Chetia and is reportedly waiting for a official and public confirmation from Chetia to join the pro-talk faction. The coming General Secretary of ULFA[I] is a young person in thirties from Kakopathar area of Tinsukia district.
It is yet unknown in what capacity Anup Chetia would be joining the pro-talks faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa. It is also claimed that he, along with the other pro-talk leaders is indulging in a plan for a Political party and contest in the upcoming Assembly elections. Whether Chetia takes moral responsibility of turning around all the mis-deeds and actually is able to do something worthy for the land he claimed to fight for, is something only time will tell.
Anirban Kalita is Executive Editor of News Section. His role is also involved with reviewing, editing of articles before publishing.
By academic Anirban is MTech of Computer Science & Technology.