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What next in Assam?

Editorial |

A day after Ulfa (Independent) chairman Abhijit Asom pleaded with the people of Assam to oppose the Centre’s move to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, suspected Ulfa cadres struck in upper Assam ~ killing the driver of a van carrying cash for delivery to tea gardens. (If the amendment is passed, thousands of religious minorities from Afghanistan,Pakistan and Bangladesh will be able to secure citizenship). The next day Ulfa(I) and NSCN (Khaplang) cadres ambushed an Army convoy in the Tinsukia area with sophisticated weapons, killing three soldiers. All this should be seen as adequate warnings of what to expect in future and their capability to create serious problems for the authorities.
Self-styled Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua has the wherewithal to do so. When  Ulfa and Bodo rebels were taking shelter in Bhutan after the Army’s Operation Rhino in 1991, they were said to have built a huge stockpile of weapons. But, at the time of their surrender, in the aftermath of the successful Royal Bhutan Army crackdown in December 2003, the number of weapons surrendered was far below expectations. Besides, till now no one knows the whereabouts of half a dozen frontline leaders after they surrendered. Also, there had been reports of at least 150 cadres heading towards Bangladesh after the crackdown.
It is possible they are fighting along with Barua for “swadhin Asom”. Ulfa ‘finance secretary’ Chittabon Hazarika and ‘foreign secretary’ Sashadhar Choudhury, who were arrested while trying to sneak into India from Bangladesh in November 2009, have revealed that not only does Barua have crores of rupees, he also has a base in China and shops for more weapons from neighbouring countries.
So one cannot discard him as a spent force. He has the ability to regroup forces and strike. Now he has joined hands with Khaplang,who presides over a new outfit that includes Bodo and Meitei rebels and operates from across the Myanmarese border. They pose a serious threat to India’s security. These developments call for strict vigilance and strengthening of security forces and intelligence.
Pro-talk Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and his teammates, who surrendered along with him and are engaged in talks with the Centre, are far too comfortable and happy after they submitted their demands to the former UPA government. The Centre has obliged Rajkhowa by extraditing the Ulfa general secretary from Bangladesh. So even if they are counting their chickens before they hatch they should think in terms of lasting peace which is possible only after Barua heads for home.