ULFA has failed to address core issues of Assam: Book
New Delhi: ULFA's obsession with sovereignty and fight against the government could not attract the common masses and unlike the Maoists, it has failed to take up people's issues that confront them, says a new book.
"Confronting the State: ULFA's Quest for Sovereignty" by political analyst Nani Gopal Mahanta examines the complex nuances and dynamics that made ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) a formidable insurgent group in India.
According to the author, ULFA has, however, turned out to be yet another emotionally-driven misplaced movement which failed to address the core issues of Assam.
"ULFA never answered certain basic questions that the people of Assam would have liked to ask. They never allowed a healthy debate that can address some structural issues. ULFA's obsession with sovereignty and fight against Delhi could not attract the common masses.
Unlike the Maoists they have failed to take up the people's issues that confront them on a day-to-day basis such as corruption, unemployment, nepotism, illiteracy and communication."
Mahanta argues that ULFA always tinkered with some of the generic macro issues which the masses could not feel attached with.
He says contrary to demand of the ULFA that it is fighting a war on behalf of the people and it still is the organisation of the people doesn't reflect in reality.
"In fact, it is fast losing popularity because of its activities. This becomes clear from the anti-ULFA demonstrations in different parts of Assam. On many occasions, rebels were hacked to death by public because of continuous harassment and extortion," the book, published by Sage, says. So what caused the decline of ULFA?
The author says several factors were primarily responsible for its decline ? indiscriminate killings of Russian engineer Sergei Gritsenko, activist Sanjay Ghosh and ONGC engineer TS Raju among hundreds of people, support to Pakistan during Kargil war, support to Bangladeshi immigrants and the Dhemaji school bombing on Independence Day in 2004 that claimed over 15 lives, mostly children.
The ULFA came up primarily to emancipate the people from, what is called, the "shackles of exploitation and discrimination". But the group failed to provide any alternative to the existing state system.
"A euphoria was created by ULFA in its initial period as it carried on massive communitarian work in every nook and corner of Assam, particularly in the mid-80s. The rural people had tremendous faith in ULFA that it would do something for the people but that expectation was continuously belied by ULFA," the book says.
The author claims that the ideological and identity issues between the Centre and Assam have remained unresolved, and ULFA is a manifestation of that unresolved crisis. He explains that ULFA represents a mindset, a suppressed voice, which is deeply engrained in Assam's psyche.
The book also tries to go beyond a ULFA-centric solution and dwells upon the issues of illegal migration, human development and the need for the protection of a composite society in Assam. It also deals with the 2012 (July-September) violent conflict in Bodoland over the issue of illegal migration and quest for a homogenous homeland.