By- Priyanuj Gohain
During the last few weeks, the pro-talk leaders of the United Liberation Front of Assam has admitted to the many killings by the outfit in the last three decade as mistakes and have apologized to the public. As Assam eagerly waits for some decisive conclusion of the Government of India and ULFA talks to bring results to long Indo-Assam conflict, Times of Assam brings to you the history of major mistakes by the outfit since their inception which resulted in public resentment as well as major setback to the outfit.
The first major mistake by ULFA happened way back on May 10th, 1985 in the form of Killing of Girish Goswami, Manager of United Commercial (UCO) Bank and brother of Jayashree Goswami Mahanta, wife of then Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. The newly armed trained cadres of ULFA carried out a bank robbery in UCO bank, Silpukhuri at Guwahati in their drive to raise funds. Bank Manager Girish Goswami was shot as he refused to pass on the keys to the money vault and he died in broad daylight. Mahikanta Hatibarua of the gang was arrested at place and later on, CID launched investigation and arrested Kalpajyoti Neog of the outfit. Neog later confessed the killing to be by ULFA, the newly formed organization. This incident resulted in the then Chief Minister Prafulla Mahanta taking a step forward to avenge the killing, made friendly ties with the national Party, BJP in the late eighties and with Lalkrishna Advani’s strong support in 1989, secured in banning ULFA . This incident is also known to be the root cause of the Secret killings of the ULFA families in 1998-2000 during Mahanta’s second tenure as Assam’s chief minister.
After passing a period of enjoying complete public support and getting Robin Hood treatment, ULFA committed their second major mistake on July 23rd, 1990. This was the assassination of Rohiteswar Saikia, general secretary of Sivasagar District Congress and brother of ex-chief minister and the then Governer of Mizoram, Hiteshwar Saikia in Nazira by ULFA. This resulted massive blow on ULFA when Hiteshwar Saikia came to power as the state’s chief minister in 1991. He played arguably the dirtiest political game in Assam, creating a rift between ULFA and creating the SULFA, making way for newer bloodshed. If this was not enough, then what happened on January 23, 1991 was just adding fuel to a fire. On that very day, Pradip Saikia, nephew of Hiteshwar Saikia was shot dead by ULFA. Late Saikia was not related with politics at all and in this occasion too, his wife watched the incident live in front of her eyes with her kid in her arms. This killing resulted in Hiteshwar Saikia to be more attacking on ULFA and managed to do massive damage to the outfit with his sought Army Operations and dirty politics.
On the other hand, the Killing of Amitabh Rabha, son of Chandra Rabha and a Central Committee leader of United Reservation Movement Council of Assam (URMCA) at Tamulpur of Nalbari on November 17th, 1990 brought the first rift between ULFA and Ethnic groups of the land. The shooting took place at evening in front of his father and wife, and the news that Rabha’s kid was in his arms when he was shooted created huge public condemn.
To be Contd…
This serial report is not to bring back the horrible memories of the incidents mentioned, but to remind the people of Assam about the mistakes in the armed struggle which led to decade long bloodshed. Times of Assam very much wants peace to dawn in Assam forever and the issues for which such insurgency started to be solved forever.