By- Priyanuj Gohain
While the people of Assam is finally hoping for a positive conclusion of the decade old armed struggle in the state through the much awaited peace talks between Government of India and ULFA, a body is secretly trying to disturb the whole peace process and destroy the dreams of the people for a peaceful land. In recent days, there has been found enough traits which clearly suggests a deadly conspiracy slowly gaining momentum against the aspirations of the common people as well as the tough toil of the National Congregation (Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan) formed by the most eminent civilians of the state.
To start with, the recent press release by Paresh Baruah claiming that his son has been abducted to pressurize him for his surrender, itself raises an eyebrow on the vigilant ones for several reasons. Firstly, it is indeed strange that Paresh Baruah, who had been communicating with the press and media through telephone, is of late using only email press releases. For a man known to have constantly kept in touch with the likes of even BBC journalists through telephone has either gone really poor that he cannot afford a satellite phone or is in a place where he cannot make calls. The second seems more probable, with Times of Assam already suggesting that Baruah might be in Bangladesh State custody, arrested on charges of the Chittagong arm-dwell case and not handed over by Bangla Government with the sole motive of either using him to send the leaders of the opposition party to jail or under guidance of Indian Government for unfathomable reasons. Besides the Assamese font or the printing style of the recent press release is completely different that all other official releases of the outfit in all these years and decades. If this is not enough, then the fact that the press release was not circulated to every media or newspaper press directly but only to some of the satellite news channels who in turn had further circulated to other media is also something which has never happened before, hits the nail right in its head.
The worst part of this dirty game is however the fact that some journalists and media agency also seems to be included in this conspiracy. In fact some of the vernacular press of the state as well as National Media has gone ahead to suggest that Paresh Baruah’s son has been kidnapped by Drishti Rajkhowa under command of Raju Barua, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of ULFA, recently released in bail and a key member to the upcoming talks between ULFA and Government. No wonder this rumor has been spread for two probable reasons – one may be to stop the phenomenon rise of popularity of the ULFA leaders when they were released on bail as this can become a serious political hindrance to the state machine. Tens of thousands of people greeting ULFA leaders throughout their way to home from Jail on being released, popular Bihu songs glorifying ULFA leaders and sovereignty, rising expectation that Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa would be greeted by a lakh people in his home town indeed are a threat to political powers, especially at the hours of election. Secondly, the accusing of Raju Barua alias Hitesh Kalita reminds the people of the days in 1991-92 when the then Deputy Commander-in-Chief of ULFA, Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was prey to a similar conspiracy during a period when the first round of talks between ULFA and Government of India was around the corner. Heerak Jyoti Mahanta being a handsome youth, talented student, martial arts expert and overall son of Divisional Manager of LICI was the key person of huge flow of Assamese youths towards the armed struggle. After he was killed on December 31, 1991 by Army & Police, it had badly shaken the first and the only round of talks between ULFA and Central Government held on 11th January. In fact Mahanta’s father Ratnapati Mahanta till date laments that his son was killed as a part of conspiracy of ULFA C-in-C Paresh Baruah, General Secretary Anup Chetia; and their wrong decision to collaborate with Hiteshwar Saikia, the then chief minister of Assam who had come to power with ULFA’s passive help in 1991.
The role played by National media like IBN-LIVE and certain television channel seems evident in this conspiracy. Just half an year back, when the same media had not even published a word or any footage when Dr Hiren Gohain, representing Jatiya Abhibartan, the citizens forum initiating the peace process complained that they were not getting proper response from Government and that they could sense a group within the ministry trying to play spoilsport, the media houses are now found keen in spreading the rumor about Paresh Baruah’s teenage son getting kidnapped by other ULFA leaders! Anyway this seems nothing new to our people. Right from the initial days of insurgency, the National media has been reporting in bits and pieces only mass destruction in insurgency of Assam, never about the woes, sufferings of the common people caught in the crossfire between militants and Indian Army. In fact the first bullet shot by the Indian Army in their first operation against ULFA in Lakkhipathar had killed a 70 years aged lady, Pohari Das! And that was only the beginning – brutal rapes by the Army on village women, assaults, human right violation to its peak in Assam or North East was never or hardly touched by such Indian National Media. In fact these media had gone to the extent of terming human rights activities as terrorist supporters! So everyone in Assam anyway knows what Indian national Media is all about.
The email press release by Paresh Baruah says that his teenage son was kidnapped, the media is reporting to the extent that the kid was kidnapped when coming from school. However the fact is that Paresh Baruah’s son Arindam Baruah (actual name) was a student in class IV when he had accompanied his father in a General Council meeting of ULFA in 1996, as confirmed by a top section of the outfit! So he’s neither a teenager nor a school student anymore and Paresh Baruah himself wouldn’t really be bluffing about this!