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ULFA's relevance and the Assamese Society

As the gap for holding political dialogue between the ULFA leaders and Government seems to be getting closer with the release of the jailed leaders, once again expectations are growing and people in general have started weaving dreams in the twilight. Whenever the question of ULFA is being raised a million dollar question regarding ULFA, s relevance to Assam and the Assamese society in the present context has always been raised. There are many who wants to say ULFA is no more relevant to the Greater Assamese society. Yes, this might be true only in case of Greater Assamese society but not for the “Assamese society”. For me the greater Assamese society consists of those people who live in Assam but are least bothered about the sticky problems of the society. One may not necessarily be a non-Assamese in the greater Assamese Society, These people are practically more concern about their materialistic benefits, may be individual or organizational and thus the relevance of the ULFA in this era globalization may be considered as only a pin head. There are people who even question the need for a dialogue with the ULFA, when the might and support of the organization is fading. However not to get sentimental with those feelings because I don’t consider them to be Assamese by heart though they are breathing in this land. They don’t even deserve a booby prize from the Assamese society.

But for the “Assamese Society” the relevance of the ULFA will always be there. What is the use of thinking and talking about a greater Assamese Society that can’t think about the pros and cons of a problem and neglects important issues of the smaller tribes. And what if that society gets washed away in the wave of globalization. These days we are having bigger homes only to nestled smaller families, bigger money only to spend on ourselves own and a bigger society only think shallow.

Once again for me people including in the Assamese society may not necessarily be an Assamese by tradition. It is that society that tries to understand the problems and the plight of Assamese society and thus takes a dig into the ULFA problem and relates it to the people of Assam and comes to a wise conclusion. The wise conclusion is that the ULFA is still relevant to the Assamese society and the problem is our as a whole and thus a respectful solution is a must. I, very proudly including myself in the “Assamese Society” thus saying that the ULFA will always be relevant to the Assamese society.

We had supported the ULFA morally and their issues of conflict against the centre when they had taken up arms for revolution 30 years back and thus have to stand by their side when they needed the people most. I mean to say, at this juncture when the leaders are being freed for starting a dialogue we can’t push ourselves back as because they had come back with stains in the white collar shirts. Won’t it be unwise to think that a rebel organization all these days were meditating sitting under a “PEEPLE” tree for attaining nirvana. Is it so easy to rage a battle against a country like India, where Chanakya had laid rules of politics, whose leitmotif rested on the four key principles: "Saam, daam, dand, bhed". Join the foe, bribe him, punish him, and not least divide his ranks. Didn't our colonial rulers look like they were applying Chanakya's doctrine of divide and rule on us? The British had already reaped the dividend. We have chased the British long time back but we still feel pride and privileged to put our feet in their boots. We still love to kick our own people with shining polished boots but at least the British did not torture their own people.

There is no denying that the ULFA have taken lives of hundreds of innocent people and we have protested against it from time and again, but didn’t the security killed the innocent people in the name of counter insurgency, didn’t they looted our poor people. How many times hue and cry was made against the security forces and specially the government in this regards have always been a silent spectator. When a war is waged collateral damage id done and it’s the common people everywhere who suffers the most. However both the parties did not tried to minimize the damage and not to forget the brutality of the security forces. How can people expect discipline from an outlaw organization when one cannot expect discipline and restrain from a democratically elected government. The government in the centre knows our people are divided and thus a proper pressure could never be built for a respectful solution and I still wonder about the conclusion. Is it the same in the case of Nagaland?.

Once again coming to the ULFA, s relevance in the society, the Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi, feels that the ULFA is a past; to put in proper words the ULFA are a handful of people some about hundred in numbers at present and have almost finished. So the mighty Indian army has been fighting them since last 30 years to finish it all. Is now the ULFA like a wandering ghost that has come out of its coffin and searching for a place in the society and thus a little ritual with few wrong “mantras” can get it back into the coffin to rest. If a proper solution is not written for the future, history might repeat itself.

One can understand many how youths got off track and join the ULFA, that doesn’t mean that the ideology of the ULFA is too cheap that people will stop supporting their cause all of a sudden, yes, there are some demands which require more research works before coming to any abrupt ceremonial conclusion. ULFA is not merely an organization, and their people may die along with the organization but not their Ideology for which they were born and once had their Robin Hood image. We have to admit that hundreds of young Assamese died in the war between the ULFA and the Government, and does any one wants to forget the lives that the society have lost. Were those lives not precious or were they aliens to the Assamese society.

With the passage of time physical things tend to change their shapes, organization get weaker and stronger, people support and withdraw support, actions get right and wrong, and this is what has happed to the ULFA.But the relevance of ideology will always be there in the society. Did the ULFA initially take up arms out of passion for fun to fight the Indian Army? Of course not. So whats the moral duty of the society? Is it tolerable to listen that they are a bunch of goons or nasty Assamese youths. If yes, the whole Assamese Society should share the responsibility for the state of affairs. A past history is what we dig for learning about the evolution of a particular society and so will be in the case of the Assamese society. Every time someone takes a deep look into the Assamese society the relevance of the ULFA ought to be there. Yes, the account of the Government and the ULFA will be taken into consideration by the people both for their wrong actions and right doings. One just cannot make the Government a hero and demonize the ULFA.

There is no wonder when for the Government both in the centre and in the state the illegal Bangladeshi is not a big problem how can a handful of ULFA be a problem at all. The ULFA can only be an issue for any election. In the recent wiki leaks it was revealed that the insurgency problem in the North East is not a priority for the centre. Till date some more than 12,000 innocent people have lost their lives in the 30 year long revolution, does any one care if another thousand Assamese people die in the name of revolution. It’s no way going to affect the growing Indian Economy. In our country we are bound to support illegal things done legally and supporting legal things done illegally is a crime.

Author info

Peter Alex Todd's picture

Journalist, musician.


Pallavi Barua's picture

Truly said Alex. The points put forward by you are all very relevant, I echo your words and concern. The ideology of ULFA was in the interest of Assam, but the execution was faulty. Later leaders and cadres became pawns of a far cunning race of people towards the west of Assam. Gandhi succeeded in his movement against the British, first and foremost because the British are a civilised people. Assam could have come out of this colonial structure during the times of the British, just as Burma/ Myanmar did in 1935. If the British left Amir Khan's filmy village because of losing a cricket match in Oscar nominated 'Lagaan', then they must be very civilised in the first place. I doubt whether the Indian state forces would do that even after losing 1000 cricket matches in Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur etc.
Raktim Baruah's picture

It seems that Indian government maintains double standard towards the problem.In one hand they speak about peace-talks with the banned out-fit.But on the other hand they remain military operations.
Pronamika Hazarika's picture

Assam needs growth. Growth will come when there is employment. Containing infiltration is inevitable but more than that the politicians of Assam/rulers of assam should start comparing their level of integrity with those who have made kerala,gujarat and now bihar what it is.

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25 Jul 2012 - 4:20am | editor

Hundreds of people representing various minority organizations staged dharna in front of the Assam Bhawan in New Delhi, on Tuesday demanding steps to ensure safety of the minority people in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts. Shouting anti-government slogans, the protestors demanded deployment of more security forces to combat violence that spread to rural areas and neighbouring districts. Protesters said that the clash confines to only the Bodoland area. They alleged that the incident has been taking place for the couple of days even as no action has been taken.

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Given the fast declining costs of such technologies globally, diverse resource base of India to support them, and their suitability for integration with decentralized community-managed systems, they fit the bill.

Conventional large-scale options like nuclear and large hydro have failed to provide energy security almost everywhere in the world thanks to high capital costs and unresolved impacts on the local communities, environment and safety.

Systems based on clean coal and natural gas, given their current domestic availability and low capital cost respectively, can play stopgap role in the transitory phase until production and delivery infrastructure based on renewables is put in place.

Besides establishing such an infrastructure, major institutional changes will be required to replace the centralized, fuel reserve driven notion of energy security with a supply chain resources driven, people-centered and sustainable one.

Since the trend of rising international oil prices and speculations of depleting oil reserves began, the concern for energy security has been on the top of the policy agenda in most countries. This article revisits the notion of 'energy security' and assesses India's energy policy against its backdrop.

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Various programmes that a government undertakes with explicit aim of making accessible useful energy carriers to all citizens in adequate quantity and quality and affordable cost over a long period of time without imposing heavy burdens of any kind can be said to enhance that nation's energy security.

It is important to emphasize accessibility to 'all citizens' for the obvious reason that a nation can be said to be energy secure only if all sections of its population are so. Thus enhancement of energy security demands an appropriate choice not just of technologies and energy carriers, but also of institutional structures and delivery systems that ensure access to even the poorest sections of population.

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Finally, it needs to be realized that in a world with increasing economic inter-connectedness, the factors that enhance energy security are different than those in the old world.

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- Dr Rahul Pandey

(The author is a former faculty member at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow, and is currently a member of a start-up venture that develops mathematical models for planning and policy analysis. His doctoral and post-doctoral research work was related to energy and environment policy and climate change. He can be contacted at:

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