By- Priyanuj Gohain
The homecoming of the Jailed leaders of the ULFA including its Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, released on bail to facilitate talks with the Government was celebrated across the states in such frenzy that the Government had to ban public display of ULFA-Flags. The symbol of the rising sun was once again visible across posters and public places. It was then understood that such overwhelming support to the banned outfit, reminding days of the eighties and early nineties when ULFA almost threatened to take complete control of the state, was because people wanted ULFA leaders to talk and bring solution to the decade long problems of Assam. Now, slowly that return of support is being used by the faction that stayed behind, Paresh Baruah led group which denied compromising with Freedom of Asom.
There has been a rush of youth to join the militant outfit once again, especially in districts of Upper Assam. Sources from ULFA states that this time, the recruitment process is made most strong so that they only have the best of the lot. Cadres, such as those in the past who leaves the outfit to become a SULFA are being identified and avoided, the source claimed. As per reports, at least 400 youth are now in the ULFA camps in Myanmar at Taga area and being trained under the presence of the outfit’s Supremo, most wanted Paresh Baruah alias Paresh Asom.
The recent agitation-mood sparked by the anti-dam rallies, public protests across the state regarding innumerable items ranging from Land Transfer pact to rights over lands has brought back the ever grieving anti-Delhi spirit of the people to a large extent. The non-activeness of the Pro-Talk faction led by ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, failure so far by democratic protests against mega dam and also certain well laid plan by Paresh Baruah led ULFA has brought back a lot of support for the banned outfit.
The recent report about School Teacher, Writer & Novelist Jahnabi Mahanta Rajkonwar of Tinisukia District joining the outfit, leaving behind her two kids and husband in pursuit of joining the revolution for Assam itself was a proof in this fact. Following this news, there were several media reports that indicated that hundreds more in those districts wanted to follow Jahnabi Mahanta Rajkonwar into the outfit.
On the other hand, the Government always believed and claimed that by cutting off the bases of ULFA in Bhutan and Bangladesh would make them weak and feeble. That is true by all means as now ULFA has to depend on training camps in remote Nagaland and Myanmar instead of a readily accessible Bhutan or Bangladesh. But Paresh Baruah is using it to his advantage and successfully revived the early days of the outfit when ULFA meant arms training in Kachin province of Myanmar.
One of the reasons why the early batches of ULFA cadres in late eighties and early nineties, especially the middle level leaders were the most dreaded, uncompromising and fearless was the reason that they all had undergone training together with their leaders such as Paresh Baruah, Bhaskar Baruah or Heerak Jyoti Mahanta together in the same camps. They underwent the same rough patch in hostile conditions where examples of their leaders sharing the same days and morale booster from their leaders were their lifeline. As a result, they had evolved as a tight packed unit, deadly and idealistic enough to capture people’s imagination and support. Over the years, as ULFA multiples its strength with camps in several places in Bhutan and Bangladesh, there was a big communication rift amongst cadres, battalions, units and middle level leaders. The cadres in ULFA rarely saw their Commander in Chief, for example and this led to a huge rift leading to senior leaders losing their grip.
In current days, Paresh Baruah and his able associates such as Drishti Rajkhowa and Jiban Moran have been able to bring those old days of Kachin back. The unit is strong, closely knitted and most importantly with ULFA deciding to have only Asom as common surname, they are built into the lines of unity and emancipation missing in the mid-years of the outfit. Dristi Asom alias Dristi Rajkhowa, Second in Command after Paresh Baruah is to be mentioned here as he is one of those few leaders who have lived through all sorts of rough patches from a grass root level, lived in multiple places across the state including commanding over the Indo-Bangladesh border and is a living idol for new recruits. Unlike Raju Baruah, Deputy C-in-C of the outfit who has now joined the pro-talk faction, Drishti Rajkhowa alias Drishti Asom has better strengths over field level operations experience and living across the state for long years.
As exposed by Times of Assam earlier, ULFA has also found its new acting Chairman Dr. Abhizeet Bormon alias Abhizeet Asom, who is actually a Doctor and human rights activist from UK. This Doctor, also a strong writer had accompanied Arabinda Rajkhowa and Co. to United Nations in the nineties and maintains close association with several International contacts including a Nobel Prize Winner, which is again a new found strength of the outfit at its leadership level.
The time is crucial. With every delay in the lateral talks between the Pro-Talk faction of ULFA and Government of India, with every single mistake between the two of them (Pro-talk faction and Government), the hardliner group led by Paresh Asom would gain inch by inch. Absence of violence in present days should not be seen as the end of ULFA by the Government. It is time for reality check and put an end through proper channeling and dialogue to the long insurgency problem of the state, even if it involves the topic of Sovereignty. Assam can not afford anymore flow of youth to armed rebellion once again, it has seen enough of bloodshed and innocents cry with anger.
Peace remains a far distant dream even as peace talks are the word of the mouth.