Killing Assamese youths: ULFA(I)’s way

/ Other News / Monday, 16 May 2022 18:24

By: Nava Thakuria
Guwahati, May 16:

For the banned separatist militants, it was an execution of their judicial council’s order to punish two newly recruited cadres, but for the government and people of Assam in northeast India it was nothing but a cold-blooded murder of Sanjiv Sarma and Dhanjit Das in one of their hideouts somewhere in Myanmar-China border areas. The passionate observers do not find it unusual when the United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), which has been waging a war against New Delhi for a separate homeland for the Assamese out of India, declare the capital punishments to their members for the inexcusable crimes.
In a media statement on 7 May 2022, the Ulfa(I) claimed that their judicial organ found both the young cadres guilty of spying for Assam police and hence Sanjiv and Dhanjit were executed in the morning hours. The armed outfit also claimed that both Sanjiv (hailing from Baihata Chairali near to Guwahati) and Dhanjit (from Barpeta in western Assam) confessed their crimes (of spying) and they were convicted in the first week of May itself. Speaking to some Guwahati-based satellite news channels live, the Ulfa(I) military chief Paresh Barua stated that the crime of Sanjiv and Dhanjit was unpardonable under their constitution.
The outfit also released two video clippings where Sanjiv and Dhanjit confessed their crimes (that they were secretly working for the police) and stated that the Ulfa(I) is a revolutionary organization (meaning not a terror group). It is understood that the victims read out the lines under gun points in the camp. Most of Assam news channels telecast the videos repeatedly which created real sensations among the audience. However, the militants remained silent on handing over the bodies to respective families as the last respect to the victims. Moreover, the outfit did not issue any supporting photographs (or video clippings) of their execution.
Born on 7 April 1979 at Sibsagar in eastern Assam, the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) pledged for an independent homeland for its indigenous population through an armed struggle. For decades the militant outfit enjoyed public support with a unified command, but in 2011 there emerged divisions among the leaders on the ground of peace talks with the government. Many preferred to sit for negotiations, but Barua rejected the idea and formed a different group in 2012. Soon his faction emerged as Ulfa-Independent to continue the struggle for an elusive Swadhin Asom.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, also in charge of State home portfolio, strongly denied the presence of any spy from the State police department in the militant’s hideouts. The saffron leader, who has been pursuing the peace talk initiatives with the Ulfa(I) leaders for a year, which resulted in an unilateral ceasefire by the militants showing their sincerity to the negotiation process, argued that it was beyond the State government’s jurisdiction to send spies outside the country. Repeatedly urging the militants to shun the path of violence, Sarma commented that it’s time for peace & progress and no way for relentless bloodshed.
The State police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta also denied the allegation that his department had sent any spy to the militant camps. Asserting that the State police had never sent a spy in the last few decades, Mahanta clarified that it’s beyond their command to send anyone to a foreign country as the secret agent. In his belated official comment, the DGP termed the execution of two youths, if it turns out to be true, as inhuman and terrorizing. Moreover, he asserted that the judicial organ of Ulfa(I) cannot be recognized. Finally, Mahanta questioned why the State police would send spies to the rebels’ camp at this moment, when the initiative for peace negotiations with the Union government is going on.
The latest killing of another cadre (Biju Gogoi) by the militant outfit really annoyed the peace-loving people of Assam. It was however revealed by an arrested rebel, who declared that he witnessed Biju’s body with bullet injuries in a camp inside Myanmar. Biju was associated with All Assam Students’ Union and joined the Ulfa(I) in 2019 following the uproarious situation emerged due to rigorous protests against the citizenship amendment act in the State’s Brahmaputra valley. The arrested rebel claimed that Biju was gunned down by the militants as he tried to escape the camp.
As the news spread, Ulfa(I) militants came out with a clarification that Biju was not executed but he killed himself on 12 February last. Now the family members of Biju raise the pertinent question why the militant leaders did not disclose it earlier. Biju’s mother demands a proof that her son committed suicide by shooting himself in the camp and not murdered by the militants. Facing the heat, Barua telephoned Biju’s brother and asserted that the arrested rebel was not a recognized member of their organization and he spread the news on behalf of the government so that a wrong message goes to the people.
Earlier, a forum of nationalist citizens sharply reacted to the development commenting that the claimed execution of two cadres by Ulfa(I) only reflects its desperation to get public attention. Patriotic People’s Front Assam, in a media statement, affirmed that the armed outfit has been indulging in crimes (of assassinating thousands of Assamese nationals) for the sake of revolution since its inception in 1979. When the Ulfa(I) leaders made a declaration that a few secret agents (working for Assam police) were identified in their hideouts, everyone guessed some actions, but the mainstream society did not comprehend that the militants would kill more Assamese youths.
The patriotic forum also urged the local media outlets to be responsible while reporting the issue of militancy. Providing live coverage to the militant leaders as if they were doing some heroic work, the forum argued that the news channels were glorifying the Ulfa(I) for their inhuman activities. The news anchors hardly questioned the authority of Ulfa(I) to declare someone as traitors and subsequently execute him. Moreover, if the militants have the compassion to pay the final respect to victims by sending their bodies to the families, it was also not raised by the news presenters. So the question arises, how the media outlets (even after legally abided by the government guidelines), can use their precious space with so much insensitivity and irresponsibility.
Not to speak of news channels, a city media club also tried to accommodate live space to the hardcore militant leader with an arranged media interaction last year, which resulted in a police complaint against the Gauhati Press Club office-bearers. The complainant Biswajit Nath, a city based nationalist scribe, argued that many journalist-members of the same press club once stood against the separatist militants to hoist the national Tri-colour in the club premises on every Independence and Republic Day, but the present committee has spoiled the spirit of patriotism with an attempt to organize a press interaction with Barua, who has been challenging India’s sovereignty and integrity for decades.

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