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Rakas-6: Students started collecting tax for living in Assam, even killed school children; The full story of ULFA insurgency

Rakas-6: Students started collecting tax for living in Assam, even killed school children; The full story of ULFA insurgency


1 day agoAuthor: Srishti Tiwari

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6 April 1981. A jeep was parked on a lonely dark road on a hill surrounded by tea gardens. IAS officer Parthasarathy was sitting in it. Suddenly he heard a sound like a stone or a bird hitting the jeep. He got down and started searching in the dark to find out what might have hit him. A passerby passing by saw him in trouble and came near to help.

What Parthasarashti thought was a stone was actually a grenade. There was a huge explosion and pieces of bodies were scattered on the road. Not only Officer Parthasarashti and the passerby, but the attacker who threw the grenade was also killed in the explosion. After this incident, 11 people were arrested on suspicion, most of them were students of one or the other university.

ULFA was a student organisation comprising members of the All India Students Union.

ULFA was a student organisation comprising members of the All India Students Union.

today on the sixth day of rakas And in the last episode we talked about the student movement that started in Assam, which soon turned into the militant organization ULFA…

In 1971, there was a war between Bangladesh and East Pakistan. Due to this war, about 1 crore Bangladeshi refugees came to Assam, out of which 13 lakh refugees settled here.

The people of Assam felt that if so many Bangladeshis came to Assam, then neither their language, nor employment nor land would survive. To oppose this, on 7 April 1979, All Assam Students Union member Paresh Barua formed the United Liberation Front of Assam or ULFA. His fellow students Arabinda Rajkhowa, Golap Barua alias Anup Chetia, Samiran Gogoi alias Pradeep Gogoi and Bhadreshwar Gohain were included in it.

The organization initially protested against Bangladeshis getting jobs and buying land. Soon, protests demanding independence for Assam started in the states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram. However, these protests soon turned violent.

ULFA initially comprised seven students, who later became the face of militancy.

ULFA initially comprised seven students, who later became the face of militancy.

Students took training for bomb blasts

Assam Liberation Party (ALA) leader and student leader Jayant Sharma started forming an army of students. Jayant joined the students and gave them army training so that they could drive out immigrant Bangladeshis from Assam. Gradually, students unions from North-East parts also started joining this organization.

He used to gather students from rural areas and provide them houses to live in. He used to take all his decisions in the districts of Sivasagar, Nagaon, Nalbari, Jorhat of Assam and also used to help the villagers and students.

Nani Gopal Mahanta writes in ULFA: The Quest of Sovereignty, ‘The students themselves did not know why they were joining this organisation. It was as if they were fighting only to take revenge from the army and police. They were learning to make bombs. They were learning to use pistols. In one such bomb-making training, a blast took place in which 10 students died. After this, the ULFA organisation decided that they would give better training to their organisation and only then would they attack.

Sunil Nath, who was an active member of ULFA, gave an interview to ‘Amar Asom’ newspaper on 20 April 2002. He said, ‘When I was in college, I became a member of the Assam Movement. We thought this would be the last fight for the Assamese. Whatever happens, we have to save the people of Assam. If we fail to achieve this, the identity of the Assamese will be lost.’

ULFA comprised mostly students from major districts of Assam like Guwahati, Jorhat.

ULFA comprised mostly students from major districts of Assam like Guwahati, Jorhat.

President’s rule imposed due to uncontrollable violence

In ‘ULFA the Quest of Sovereignty’, Nani Gopal Mahanta writes, ‘Student leader Paresh Barua had accepted that his voice was not being heard. The voice of Satyagraha and peace cannot reach Delhi. Only the sound of guns and explosions will reach there.’ Under the leadership of Paresh, groups of students started targeting non-Assamese.

From 1979 to 1983, 430 bomb blasts took place in Assam, causing more than 1000 deaths. These included bank officials, police and army personnel, professors, IAS, businessmen, everyone.

On 2 February 1980, for the first time, the government held talks with the All Assam Students Association (AASU). But no solution was found. On 28 March, for the first time, the army was deployed in the state.

On 30 June 1981, there was a violent clash between the students union and the army. 5 soldiers were killed in this. After this, President’s rule was imposed in Assam. President’s rule was lifted on 13 January 1982, but 2 months later, on 13 March, President’s rule was imposed once again.

Groups of students led by ULFA leaders began targeting non-Assamese.

Groups of students led by ULFA leaders began targeting non-Assamese.

Students committed murders in protest against elections

Assembly elections were to be held in Assam in 1983. ULFA members boycotted the elections and started killing government employees associated with it. Paresh Barua, along with his companions Anup Chetia and Chakra Goin, established their first base camp in the dense forests of Digboi. 19 people lost their lives in bomb blasts at several places. Many student unions of the state, including student leaders B Baruch and Muin Nobis, believed that the people sitting in the Centre would listen to us in this way.

During 1979-80, the North Students Union supported the ULFA militants and targeted people from IAS officers to common people. During the same time, the Loulang tribals killed 2191 Bangladeshi Muslims in Nagaon district.

ULFA militants were continuously targeting government officials. A photo of the ULFA meeting.

ULFA militants were continuously targeting government officials. A photo of the ULFA meeting.

Slogans of Indian Dogs Leave Assam were given

19 April 1980 ULFA members considered Congress MLA Hiteshwar Saikya to be pro-Bangladeshi. By this time Hiteshwar was a minister in the Congress party. Saikya was going from Gargaon Balighat area in his official car, when ULFA militant Hari Borkati surrounded his car and threw a grenade at him. The grenade did not explode immediately and Saikya moved away from there before the grenade exploded.

ULFA member Hari Borkati died on the spot. The ULFA outfit called him its first martyr.

After this, college students started roaming the streets with placards. It was written on these placards, ‘India has no right to rule Assam, Free Assam and Indian Dogs Leave Assam.’

ULFA leaders and their members believed that every non-Hindi speaking person should be driven out of Assam.

ULFA leaders and their members believed that every non-Hindi speaking person should be driven out of Assam.

ULFA started collecting tax from tea plantation owners

Most of the tea traders in the state were outsiders. In such a situation, the militants kidnapped and killed many tea planters. Among them was Surendra Paul, brother of Indian-British businessman Swarajya Paul.

The militants also started collecting taxes from tea plantation owners and other big businessmen. At that time, Tata Tea chairman Darbari Seth also agreed to pay taxes to ULFA militants and paid them taxes.

ULFA members used to collect the highest taxes from the tea gardens, they believed that all traders coming from outside were non-Assamese

ULFA members used to collect the highest taxes from the tea gardens, they believed that all traders coming from outside were non-Assamese

Assam Accord was signed for peace

In 1985, the Assam Ghar Parishad Party formed the government in the state and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta became the CM. Mahanta had been a member of the Students Union. With his coming to power, the ULFA members started feeling that they had the support of the Chief Minister. At this time, the government officials were also in no mood to take any action. They were silent on the incidents happening in Assam.

To end the violence of ULFA, Assam Accord was signed in 1985. This had been discussed many times before. However, things did not work out earlier. According to this agreement, all the people who came to Assam between 1 January 1961 and 24 March 1971 will be considered as immigrants and they will not have the right to vote for the next 10 years and they will be sent back.

However, this agreement did not restore peace in the state. ULFA continued to target non-Assamese.

The Assam Accord was a peace agreement between the government and the All Assam Students' Union, All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad.

The Assam Accord was a peace agreement between the government and the All Assam Students’ Union, All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad.

Operation Bajrang put a stop to the violence

4 December 1990. Police found more than 30 bodies in the forests of Lakhimpur, out of which more than 15 were already decomposed. They were killed after being tortured. Only a few of them could be identified, including tea trader Radheshyam Lahoti, Congress worker Rana Goswami and many common people. Next month on January 12, 35 more bodies were recovered.

It was clear from this violent militancy of ULFA that every person who did not pay tax to them or did not obey them was their enemy. In such a situation, the government started Operation Bajrang against ULFA in 1990. Army soldiers attacked ULFA activists in quick succession. Many militants fell victim to bullets in these attacks. 2,800 suspected militants were arrested. 1,208 weapons and Rs 5 crore were also seized.

ULFA also retaliated against this, in which 58 people were killed. After this, ULFA’s morale started to wane. The militants agreed to peaceful elections in the state and Operation Bajrang was stopped on 1 March 1991. The government also withdrew the operation on 20 April. ULFA Commander-in-Chief Hirak Jyoti Mahanta died on 31 December 1991. After this, about 9 thousand members of ULFA surrendered.

On the left is ULFA commander-in-chief Hirak Jyoti Mahanta, who died of a heart attack.

On the left is ULFA commander-in-chief Hirak Jyoti Mahanta, who died of a heart attack.

ULFA militants got amnesty and then became violent again

DGP Hiteswar Saikia took charge in Assam on 30 June 1992 and granted amnesty to ULFA prisoners. On his release, the ULFA militants united and within a week kidnapped 14 government officials.

Once again the army launched an operation. Surveillance was started under Operation Blueprint. Sources were again gathered and a plan was made to attack quickly.

The ULFA militant accused of killing 10 policemen was arrested. After this, Operation Rhino was launched across the state and its borders. The date was 15 September 1992. The aim of this operation was to force the ULFA to come to the negotiating table. In this, paramilitary forces were deployed with the support of 270 companies. By the end of the first week, 12 camps were raided and 258 ULFA leaders and supporters were arrested.

Surveillance was started under Operation Blueprint. Sources were again gathered and a plan was made to attack quickly.

Surveillance was started under Operation Blueprint. Sources were again gathered and a plan was made to attack quickly.

The militants also killed children

Year 1995. ULFA militants killed a minister and 4 policemen. After this, there was a clash between more than 27 thousand people in Nalbari district. On one side there were ULFA militants, while on the other side there were common people and police officers. According to official data, more than 100 people were killed in this.

In 2004, there was a lot of bloodshed to drive out the non Assamese from the state. This was the year when the maximum number of non Assamese Hindi speakers were killed. The militants blew up a bus in Dhemaji district, killing 15 children.

15 Hindi speakers were killed in Dibrugarh and 12 more were killed in the Nalwari Indo-Bhutan Forest. 10 Hindi speakers and 4 Biharis were killed in Sibsagar. 22 Hindi speakers who had been living in Assam for a long time were also shot dead.

Picture after the bus blast. This was the first time ULFA had directly targeted children.

Just after the blast. This was the first time ULFA had directly targeted children.

ULFA broke into 2 parts

In 2008, ULFA leader Arabinda Rajkhowa was arrested from Bangladesh and handed over to India. When Rajkhowa talked to the government for a peace agreement, ULFA split into two parts. Rajkhowa abandoned the path of violence. On the other hand, Paresh Barua named his organization ULFA (I) and continued violent protests.

Even before the peace talks between the government and ULFA began in Assam, ULFA split into two factions. ULFA faction leader Arabinda Rajkhowa was a supporter of the peace proposal.

Even before the peace talks between the government and ULFA began in Assam, ULFA split into two factions. ULFA faction leader Arabinda Rajkhowa was a supporter of the peace proposal.

NRC implemented in the state

After decades of violence, Assam became the first state in the country to implement the National Register of Citizenship (NRC). After the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013, the work of preparing the NRC list of a state was started. It included the names of citizens who had come to India before 24 March 1971.

On 30 July 2018, the final draft of NRC was released in Assam. However, about 40 lakh people were left out of this list. On this occasion, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, ‘Assam has been suffering from ULFA violence for a long time. The implementation of NRC will start a new chapter of peace in Assam.’

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