Monday, October 18, 2004

Assam: ULFA planning overground political foray?


The outlawed Ulfa could be planning a political innings in the event of a truce with the government.The Ulfa's new line of thinking was revealed recently by the outfit's ‘political commissioner’ Mihir Chetia and his aide Arun Gogoi. The duo, arrested in Upper Assam over the last fortnight, also said the Ulfa's political ambition found favour with various sympathetic organisations, including students' and human rights bodies.
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Ulfa planning political foray?
Rahul Karmakar

The outlawed Ulfa could be planning a political innings in the event of a truce with the government.

The only militant outfit of Assam that has been reluctant to talk, the 25-year-old Ulfa may have had enough of "helping one political party or the other" assume power every five years. The outfit has begun groundwork to cultivate ideologues and influential persons in various fields towards transformation into a post-truce political party.

The Ulfa's new line of thinking was revealed recently by the outfit's ‘political commissioner’ Mihir Chetia and his aide Arun Gogoi. The duo, arrested in Upper Assam over the last fortnight, also said the Ulfa's political ambition found favour with various sympathetic organisations, including students' and human rights bodies.

According to Chetia, the Ulfa leadership was preparing to "hold the political reins" of the state.

The Ulfa has apparently drawn inspiration from the Mizo National Front, which ruled Mizoram immediately after surrendering in 1988. The NSCN, too, has been pursuing political goals, having already launched a recruitment drive for the Government of Peoples' Republic of Nagaland.

This perhaps explains Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua's conditional offer for ceasefire last month. Baruah had said the Ulfa could relax two of its preconditions — holding talks in a foreign country and under UN mediation — but could not compromise on the issue of sovereignty of Assam. Both New Delhi and Dispur have responded with a firm ‘no’.

Many believe the Ulfa’s moves towards a political party could be productive for the outfit. After all, the Ulfa was an offshoot of the same anti-foreigners students' movement in Assam that gave birth to the Asom Gana Parishad.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on CM Tarun Gogoi for talks with the Ulfa, particular with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland extending a six-month ceasefire last week.

Insight: Line of action

Offers conditional ceasefire in September

Plans to enter political arena in case of truce

Groundwork begun, cultivating ideologues and influential persons to float party

Support from sympathetic students’, human rights bodies

Inspiration drawn from Mizo National Front, which ruled Mizoram after surrendering in 1988


Hindustan Times 18/10/2004