The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has been over the decades been always an organization known for its internal divisions, partiality within the ranks and clashes within the middle-level leadership. This is in spite of the supreme sacrifice and dedication of the some of the mid-level leaders and cadres.
More importantly, one aspect which is usually not talked about but relevant is that almost every emerging leader (capable to lead in the war with the innate use of guerrilla warfare and expert in camouflage) within the organization, who gains and retains mass popularity has either been killed or hunted down. While this looks like the success of the Indian security forces and intelligence, many of those within the outfit who has left the outfit for different reasons have maintained that this is usually due sheer clashes within the outfit, or due to not being able to learn from mistakes with respect to Intelligence sharing. As a result, trending popular leaders are either sidelined or killed in cold blood or through a staged encounter with help of Indian agencies or through an offering of capital punishment for years of service in order to retain the top central leadership as has been done by the Chief-of-the-Staff of the outfit, Paresh Baruah in the last three decades. In other words a dictatorial policy. No doubt an insurgent outfit cannot run on policies of democracy.
Right from the early days of the outfit, popular leaders within the outfit such as Late Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta, Javed Borah, Swadhinata Phukan and Tapan Baruah etc have been victims of such conspiracy. Just before his capture, Captain Heerak Jyoti Mahanta’s latest photographs were leaked to Intelligence via media houses, and this played a critical role in information to capture him. The same has been seen with countless other leaders.
More recently, one live example today is of the current Deputy C-in-C Drishti Asom alias Drishti Rajkhowa. Colonel Drishti Rajkhowa alias Drishti Asom alias Manoj Rabha is the most dreaded and valuable hunt for security forces. Inputs reiterate that the Colonel Drishti has almost been sidelined after some serious differences cropped in with the top leadership of the outfit relating to the planning of strategies, recruitment, training, Eastern & Western Command operations etc. In a Times of Assam in-depth investigation – it has come to light that several photos of Drishti Asom are being circulated within different media correspondents who have then with the use of social networking sites like Facebook and personal chat platform like WhatsApp has left not a single stone unturned to viral the Deputy C-in-C photo brandishing an AK assault rifle somewhere in the Garo Mountains of Meghalaya. This raises questions of the internal security threat of the outfit members or conspiracy theory that is playing a vital role in counter-insurgency operations in the region over the last 30 years.
Rather than any of ULFA[I] leaders or cadres, Drishti Rajkhowa Alias Drishti Asom is the most valuable hunt for security forces now. Although Drishti is the Deputy C-in-C, he has been living just a tough life in jungles in the Indo-Bangladesh border for decades with almost no decision making and powers.
The important thing to note at this critical juncture is that his recent pictures are being circulated in the Media houses on the grounds of being high-level intelligence inputs. But ironically no militant leader who works in the field in real time war zone never shares or helps discreetly to publish pictures with an aim to threaten their own existence but the very fact that high definition photographs of Drishti Rajkhowa alias Drishti Asom alias Manoj Rabha are being circulated – it raises questions if there are agents within the immediate ring of close cadres who are working against the Deputy C-in-C interest. If the pattern reported by Times of Assam is on the lines then one may expect some serious infighting in the near future which will be a fatal blow to the outfit.
The outfit today is only a shadow of what it was probably in the nineties and over the last three decades – and the main reason has been its inability to learn from mistakes. The way the leaders of the outfit are being killed or destroyed due to internal clashes makes ULFA more of a gangsters paradise than a revolutionary organization.