By- Priyanuj Gohain
The complex equation between Insurgents and Political Parties has been one of the least discussed yet most difficult to manage aspects of the country, especially when elections are just around the corner. In Assam, the hype is already on with Paresh Baruah openly appealing the people not to vote for Congress in this year’s state elections.
It all started as early as 1985, when Rajen Sharma also known as Uddipta Hazarika, the first Publicity Secretary of ULFA arranged truckload of youth for pro-AGP rallies before the elections. Although the newly formed AGP in 1985 did not need much additional support to win the 1985 elections after the end of the 6 year long Assam Agitation, ULFA’s support to the party marked the beginning of secret affairs between Insurgents and Political Parties,- all for the rise and fall of Power.
However the sweet relationship between ULFA and AGP did not last long. With ULFA gaining extreme support by the public during AGP’s first reign and the people slowly realizing the futileness of an immature leadership under AGP, the AGP leadership took it as a threat to their power and throne. The bitterness between AGP and ULFA grew when Deputy C-in-C Heerak Jyoti Mahanta was captured in Maligaon, Guwahati and kept in Jail. Instead of a political treatment, Heerak Jyoti was treated with extremely poor behavior under direction of the then home minister late Bhrigu Phukan, who considered Heerak Jyoti as a threat to his power (both were from Guwahati and Heerak Jyoti arguably was far popular amidst public). He was not released for a long time although the cases filed against him could have led to bail in three months. Finally ULFA had to get their Deputy C-in-C released by captivating Russian Engineer Gritsanco and T.S. Raju. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prafulla Mahanta took a step forward to avenge the killing of his wife Jaishree Goswami’s brother, Girish Goswami, Manager of UCO Bank. (He was killed in the first Bank robbery by ULFA in 1985 in their drive to raise funds)Mahanta 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. ULFA was banned with two main reasons,- killing of Tea industrialist Surender Pal and the then Publicity Secretary’s notice to Non-Assamese tea owners to leave Assam.
In 1991, ULFA supported Hiteshwar Saikia led Congress to power. From the outfit’s side, this was not just to take away AGP’s power, but to save the organization’s leadership from the Indian Army. Reportedly, there was an internal agreement between Hiteshwar Saikia and Paresh Baruah through the mediation of Rewati Phukan, currently a top industrialist and Paresh Baruah’s good friend and co-player when both represented Assam in football. The agreement was not allowing the Indian army to carry out operations deep inside the jungles of Myanmar where Baruah and Co. were camped and tactfully end the Bajrang Operations. It might be noteworthy to mention that the Operation in Lakhipathar had come to an indecisive end post this agreement with Media being given sudden entry to the place and revelation of the mass cemetery, bags of money, etc. The seven ULFA men who fought hundreds of Indian Army for days and yet kept them away by fighting from tree-tops, remained safe and unscratched as well. However soon after that, Hiteshwar Saikia played arguably the dirtiest political game in Assam, creating a rift between ULFA and SULFA making way for newer bloodshed and ULFA’s support winced away.
It was time for the elections again in 1996 and the people of Assam needed a change from the bloody five years of Congress Rule, a period known only for bloodshed, terror of Army Operations, rapes, etc. With ULFA openly supporting AGP and Journalist Parag Kumar Das’ pen thundering against Congress, AGP got a second chance from the people of Assam. But history only repeated, – with Prafulla Mahanta led AGP simply planning to wipe out ULFA after winning with their help! Before anything else, it was required that uncompromising voice of Parag Kumar Das be silenced,- and so was done. ULFA tried to remind Mahanta about their agreement by staging a bomb attack on him in Maligaon. But this only added to Mahanta led AGP’s merciless and treacherous fuel. The dirtiest and dark secret killings of ULFA families started in full swing and they lost ULFA’s support forever. In fact ULFA too replied back, by counter killings and attacks of AGP leaders such as Nagen Sharma, Deepak Das, Biraj Sharma etc.
In 2001, the time was again for Congress led by Tarun Gogoi to win support from ULFA. Right from selection of candidates, attacks on pool booths, grenade blasts in Janata Bhawan, ULFA did it all to bring Congress to power with a hope of establishing talks between the outfit and the Government. The brass of uncompromising ULFA leaders like Tapan Baruah alias Madan Das to Basa Singh were eliminated slowly by Government as the process of holding talks initiated. There were several hiccups on the way, right from Bhutan War pioneered by the then BJP Government of India, but the process started. However this too took a long time and it became evident with time that Congress kept the issue of talks only as a trump card to win election after election using ULFA issue and support. So when Paresh Baruah openly appealed few days back not to support Congress party in 2011 elections, it can very well mean an end to ULFA’s support to any political party. With 20 years of support to different political parties, ULFA seemed to have gained nothing except treachery from each of them. Hence this very well marks an end to ULFA’s support to Congress and AGP forever.
By this time, Paresh Baruah has already established good contacts with China and it’s no longer a secret that China has started their extended support for Sovereign Assam. Right from providing modern Arms and weapons to proving safe shelter, Paresh Baruah has already initiated the process of re-birth of ULFA (as evident from the recent video footages and its meanings exposed by times of Assam already). For sure, Assam is going to see a big change in Politics in near future with the equation of Insurgents and Political Parties taking completely a different turn.