In an unconventional shift from a one to one recruitment, the banned ULFA(Independent) a dreaded organisation has of late resorted to recruitment using social media platform like Facebook and extortion through SMS and direct phone calls originating from Nagaland. Latest inputs suggest that the helm of the ULFA activities is mostly centered in and around Jorhat town of Upper Assam whether related to recruitment, fund collection or maintaining social media propaganda pages through Facebook.
If on one hand the combined forces of Assam police and the army is busy targeting and eliminating cadres of militant outfit active in Assam on the other hand intelligence and police sources have disclosed about the recruitment being done by the banned ULFA especially from the Upper Assam districts and this time the banned organisation is using social media like Facebook as a powerful tool to attract new faces and talented youths with an intellect background.
Intelligence Inputs piling up before the agencies involved in counter insurgency has in a way confirmed that the banned ULFA(I) under Sergeant Romen Asom(surrendered a month back) had recruited young boys in between the age group of 18 to 30 years from both Sibsagar and Jorhat in 2016 and the process is continuing unabated. Other details reveal that apart from the hit and run techniques and ambushes ULFA has also become active through the Facebook pages. The modus operandi involves posting on a target oriented subject while welcoming active discussion, debates and anti-India statements besides glorifying ULFA’s freedom struggle and the fascination and adventures of jungle life in a bid to prepare a list of persons having hatred towards India and the quest for a sovereign Assam.
Further, The pages are mostly ‘Moi Ek Nikhidho Kontho’ which in English speaks about a banned voice and another popular page is ‘Swadhinota Axom’ which openly post pictures of members of the organization and some recent photos of ULFA guerrillas guarding entry and exit of suspected camps besides pictures of already published in an old magazine named ‘Ajir Samai’. These photographs are generally not made public or cannot be acquired by any individual not having allegiance with the organisation. In one such photo posted showing armed cadres scaling mountains with a caption – Our land is our heritage. To none shall it be surrendered and in another ‘Pain is temporary and Pride is forever”.
Incidentally the Facebook page ‘Moi Ek Nikhidho Kontho’ has been suspended and inputs suggest that based on the short duration activity as many as 10 young boys have been recruited into the organisation from Upper Assam, five of whom are from Sibsagar and Jorhat mostly from the rural and bordering areas of the districts. Test for their physical abilities and others are likely to be conducted later on in their training camps in Myanmar where they are presently based” added the sources.
There was a time when Indian intelligence agencies used to look out for a single photo of the elusive Commander in Chief Paresh Baruah. But with the revolution of Facebook and the opening up of regional news channels, live videos and pictures of the elusive leader has become a common face. By sending videos to the news channels and the publication of the videos first as news and then links shared in YouTube has made ULFA available for the common people in the click of the mouse. A boon in disguise for the organisation to connect to the people probably possible because of the revolution in the information and technology sector which on the contrary has become a headache for the intelligence communities, law enforcing agencies and both the state and the central governments.
Meanwhile, a sensational disclosure has revealed that the ULFA(I) served demand note to many noted Non-Assamese businessmen of the district, besides the regular demand to other businessmen including tea garden owners and state government officers. Notably the demand has come from the Chairman of the ULFA(I) Abhizeet Asom as has been depicted in the calls besides the text messages sent asking contribution as party fund towards the cause of the ULFA movement. The other is one Jibon Asom.
Whereas a close study of ULFA reveals that every cadre from the bottom to the top hierarchy acquires a single and unique name which is neither transferable nor can be acquired by anyone else even for making calls for demand or sending press releases to the print or electronic news channels, the demand by the ULFA Chairman Abhizeet Asom himself has created sensation among the community. There has been an unprecedented growth of such fund numerous collection cases being registered across various police stations of the district with one in Mariani, Titabor, Teok and Jorhat Police station. The demand ranges from Rs 5 to Rs 50 Lakhs.
A detailed investigation has revealed that Abhizeet Asom is using 9612853442 while Jibon Asom is still calling from 8258047275 both Nagaland based SIM cards of private cellular companies. Ironically the Assam police are yet to take the matter up with their Nagaland counterparts to ascertain the identities of the SIM card holders. In the meantime the phone calls have not stopped. Those who receive demand note are in dilemma and are confused whether to keep silent or pay in to the demand or approach the police. Earlier the arrest of a fake ULFA in Mariani identified as Jibon Pegu who had served a demand of Rs 5 Lakhs to a businessman of the Heelikha Tea Estate and the arrest of real ULFA linkman Sahidul Islam of Mathurapur Tea Garden of Charaideo along with the owner of the Sontok Tea Garden Pradip Singh on charges of paying Rs 3 Lakhs of the demanded money has added to the anxiety of the Jorhat based businessmen.
In both cases the targeted payers are being exposed to harassment from both the ULFA[I] & the police. Failure to pay to the ULFA[I] would as is believed would attract severe punishment amounting to loss of life and on the other hand caught in the act of paying to the ULFA secretly ensures jail under 121, 121(A), 122, 387 of IPC besides 10/13 u.a (p) act.
The biggest question of the hour is who will ascertain whether these calls made for extortion and the sudden surge in activities of the ULFA pertaining to recruitment using social media are genuine or fake? Whether it is the ULFA Chairman himself or an imposter posing in his name or a group of anti social elements using the name of ULFA by falsely creating pages as in a pretext to create rift and confusion? Part of the audio shared by a businessman with the Correspondent on condition of anonymity shows that the conversation lacks an English accent because it is widely believed across intelligence agencies that Dr. Abhizeet Asom alias Abhizeet Asom a British citizen is equally an excellent orator. Times of Assam is the first media that revealed the identity of Dr Abhizeet Asom as UK based Doctor Mukul Hazarika. Allegation is that a former businessman and a former ULFA collector to be behind these activities. Incidentally Armed forces recovered a huge bounty of cash from the businessman back in the 90’s which was otherwise perceived to be a normal case as ULFA had many linkman and sympathizers who used to stash the extorted cash before being handed over to the cadres.
– with input from Upper Assam Correspondents.
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.