25th May, 2019
- Recently, 12 people including two Seema Shashastra Bal personnel were injured in a grenade blast near a police checkpoint in Guwahati.
- Later investigation showed that the violence has come from an unexpected group — the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) that had shunned violence a decade ago.
- The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is a militant outfit operating in Assam. It seeks to establish an independent state of socialist Assam with an armed struggle.
- It was founded in 1979 by Paresh Baruah. The organisation established ties with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1983, with the Burma based Kachin Independent Army in 1987 and began its own operations in 1990.
- Military operations against the ULFA by the Indian Army began in 1990 and continue into the present. The Government of India banned the organisation in 1990 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act citing it as a terrorist organisation.
Spread of ULFA:
- In less than a decade of its formation, the ULFA emerged as one of the most powerful and violent insurgent outfit in Southeast Asia, largely because of the immense popularity it enjoyed during its struggle as well as its economic power which in turn helped it in bolstering its military capabilities.
- In the early 1990s, ULFA launched an aggressive campaign with victims such as security forces, political opponents, and blasting rail links.
- In July 1991 the front captured and held 14 people for ransom, included in the abductees was an engineer and a national of the Soviet Union.
- Gradually, the organisation’s undue emphasis on collection of money and weapons in the name of furthering the ‘revolution’ led to mindless violence throughout the state. It witnessed a period marked by growing disillusionment and anger amid its supporters. In their bloody conflict with the security agencies, many innocent people lost their lives and several thousands were permanently maimed.
Negotiations and peace initiatives:
- Some leaders and cadres of the A and C companies of ULFA declared unilateral ceasefire in 2008 at a press meet held in Tinsukia district.
- They declared the ceasefire to pressurise the top brass of ULFA to sit on negotiation table with the Government of India. But the top brass of ULFA expelled these leaders. This expelled group later renamed itself as ULFA (Pro-talk).
- There was arrest of top Ulfa leaders by the Bangladesh government and they were deported to India. The jailed Ulfa leaders took the initiative in forming a "Citizen Forum" comprising intellectuals, writers, journalists, sympathisers and professionals from various other fields that would act as a catalyst in bringing the Government of India and the rebel Ulfa to the negotiating table.
- In a state level convention held in Guwahati in 2010, the forum passed a set of resolutions to expedite the peace process between Government and the ULFA. The resolution included sending an 11-member team to Delhi to put pressure on the Centre to hold talk with ULFA at an earlier date.
- The convention resolved to urge both government and ULFA to come forward for talk without any condition. Moreover, the convention in a resolution demanded immediate release of ULFA leaders for from jail.