CONCEPT – ULFA IN ASSAM

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CONCEPT – ULFA IN ASSAM

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    • What is it? The ULFA – United Liberation Front of Assam – is a separatist outfit operating in Assam supposedly for the Indigenous Assamese people.
    • What does it want? It seeks to establish a sovereign Assam, so the government of India banned it in 1990 citing it as a terrorist organisation.
    • History: It was founded on 7 April 1979 at Rang Ghar, a historic structure dating to the Ahom kingdom (1228–1826) and began operations in 1990. It was formed by Paresh Baruah, Arabinda Rajkhowa, Anup Chetia, Pradip Gogoi, Bhadreshwar Gohain and Budheswar Gogoi. The purpose was to engage in an armed struggle to form a socialist Assam.
    • Indian military swings into action: Military operations against the ULFA by the Indian Army began in 1990 and continue till date. In 2011, there was a major crackdown on the ULFA in Bangladesh, which helped India in bringing ULFA leaders to talks. In January 2010, ULFA softened its stance and dropped demands for independence as a condition for talks.
    • Tripartite agreement: On 3 September 2011, a tripartite agreement for Suspension of Operations (SoO) against ULFA was signed between the Indian government, the Assam government and the ULFA.
    • Key names of ULFA: Paresh Baruah, Arabinda Rajkhowa, Pradip Gogoi, Anup Chetia, Raju Baruah, Mithinga Daimary, Chitraban Hazarika, Prananati Deka etc.
    • At its peak: ULFA was popular among many indigenous Assamese people of the Brahmaputra valley. Supporters felt that a powerful organisation was necessary to get their voice heard in Delhi. But slowly, ULFA’s emphasis on collection of money and weapons in the name of furthering the ‘revolution’ led to mindless violence in Assam. In their conflict with the security agencies, many innocent people lost their lives and several thousands were permanently maimed. More than ten thousand local youths perished during that turbulent period.
    • Recruiting: Recruiting for the front did not begin until 1983. Soon after it finished recruitment in 1984, it began to seek out training and arms procurement from other groups such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). In 1986 it launched a fund raising "campaign" across India by way of extortion. It then began to set up camps in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh but was soon banned by New Delhi on 7 November, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
    • China in the picture: The outlawed group has been using China for shelter following mounting pressure from both Burma and Bangladesh, in turn pressured by India. The outfit’s top commander, Paresh Baruah, is living near the Sino-Burmese border looking for an alternative position for a hideout.
    • Conditions for talks: ULFA has put forward a set of three preconditions for talks and negotiations with the Indian government. These were :
      1. The talks should be held in a third country.
      2. The talks should be held under United Nations supervision.
      3. The agenda of the talks should include the sovereignty of Assam.
    • In 2004, the ULFA dropped the first two preconditions and offered to talk with the government. The Government of India was not ready to negotiate on the issue of sovereignty. Still some progress was made when the ULFA formed a "People's Consultative Group" in September 2005 to prepare the grounds for an eventual negotiation between the government and ULFA, which the government has welcomed.
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