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Chronicles of Violence and Terror

While the gruesome atrocities and the reports of alliances with foreign agents have hardened public doubts about the United Liberation Front of Asom, one cannot dismiss the entire enterprise as criminal and fraudulent. In the backdrop of the history of modern Assam, this article touches upon the conditions leading to the rise of ULFA, the making and unmaking of its character, its political significance, and the need for a sincere attempt at peace. The author views the ULFA's political immaturity, anarchic worship of violence (as the only solution) and adventurism as largely related to the fortunes of the Assamese people in historical circumstances not entirely of their own making and choice.

Perspectives

Chronicles of Violence and Terror

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Economic and Political WeeklyMarch 24, 20071013of unseated Congressmen, old Congres-sites, Assamese sub-nationalists andreactionary Hindu communalists and non-left opposition groups,preponderantlyupper-caste, but garnering wide popularsupport with cries about danger to Assam,aiming at a restoration of their fast-erodinginfluence and power through a new equa-tion with the centre. Hence the close supportit received from the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) attheall-India level, as it repre-sented Hinducommunalism and oldreactionaryprejudices.At the onset of the movement, when thesaner sections of the middle class were asyet undecided on the validity of the issue,a Congree-leaning weekly with some stand-ing among the middle-class intelligentsia,theNagorik, gave the cause some respect-ability by publishing a series of highlyinflammatory and chauvinistic articles byNibaran Bora, a brilliant and erudite ifmis-guided veteran of socialist politics, NagenHazarika, founder of the now-defunct AsomJatiyotabadi Dal, and Nagen Saikia, wholater became Rajya Sabha MP from theAGP party. (Later on Nibaran Bora, whoseson rose to the highest rungs of ULFAleadership and was allegedly killed by thearmy, became an ardent championof theULFA, and Nagen Saikia spoke in its favourduring its early years of triumph.The editor,Homen Borgohain changed gears andhimself became a target of chauvinistmobire.) Those uncomfortable facts weresuppressed later by rival accounts of themovement offered by opposing groups.But they help explain some mysteries.Does it mean that there were noforeignersin Assam?No one would care to agreewith the view in some quarters that therehad been no serious infiltration.While therehave indeed been gross atrocities againstinnocent Muslim citizens,it is difficult todeny the fact that five districts of Assamtoday show a preponderantly immigrantMuslim population.The Nagorik hadtranslatedMyron Weiner’s chapter in hisSons of the Soilon the demographicimpactofMuslim immigration from theregion now known as Bangladesh duringthe early days of the Assam movement.But there is little substance in the chargeofHindu fascists that those lakhs of poverty-stricken Bengali Muslim peasants had anyplans to Islamise Assam. They crossedover the border because they sought anescape from grinding poverty, and after theBritish colonial rulers it was the Congressministries that turned a blind eye to thephenomenon,for it helped them to winmajorities and defy at ease challenges fromthe socialists and the communists. Thecentre’s politically motivated inaction(even the BJP-led government at the centrequailed before the choice) appeared in thepropaganda of the agitators as typical ofthe centre’s callousness towards Assam.But the crux of the matter is that while theULFA from the beginning vented its animusagainst “Indian colonialists” the massiveimmigration was not a major issue forthem.They argued that once freed ofIndianbondage they would be able to solve theproblem with ease and despatch. While itis now widely believed that expedientpreparation of a national register ofcitizensis the practical answer to this problem, amatter taken over by the centre in the latestamendment to the citizenship chapter oftheConstitution, the centre shows no interestwhatever in taking effective stepsto do so.Filling the Political VacuumIt is curious that once the Asom GanaParishad (AGP) captured power it tooshowed mighty little interest in “drivingaway the foreigners”. Electoral calcula-tions seem to have turned AGP leaders alsointo sadder and wiser men. But in the meantime they had awakened the masses andinstilled in them hope that by pressuringthecentre they could wrest any concessionsthey wanted. The air was also filled withcries of betrayal and sellout by the leaders.Land reforms and spread of education, asmentioned above, were partial but real,bringing to the pages of registers ofemployment exchanges of the state 15 lakhsof unemployed youth, and their parentswere as bitter and disillusioned as theiryouthful sons and daughters. A regularblack market for jobs started , further fillingthem with gall.The AGP did draw in afraction of them into the typical Indianpatron-client network,but many more wereleft out. The Left had no instant solutionto offer and their class-analysis kept themoblivious of the growing peril.In any casethey were too marginalised and distrustedafter the storm of vicious propaganda duringthe Assam movement. The ULFA appearedto fill the political vacuum by promisingtofulfil the hopes and aspirations of the youthof the state. Their demand for indepen-dence seemed more radical and uncompro-mising than the attitudeof the reviledleaders of the AGP. And the upper-casteupper-class hoped to manipulate themthough sycophancy in themedia intoservingtheir own political interests.This is the point at which the social andpolitical scenario of Assam up to the late1970s may be given some attention. Wehave already mentioned the economic stag-nation during the late 1960s of the 20thcentury. The Congress old guard, with theexception of some like Deva Kanta Barua,had still some reputation for integrity andpublic service,but they had little idea ofeconomic development. They devoted theirentire and unremitting attention to main-taining the status quo, by playing differentethnic groups against each other, by cal-culating votes, and by creating a faithfulband of bureaucrats and intellectuals toextend necessary support to them. In themean time India had advanced and statesthat were in no better position than Assamin the early 1950s forged ahead, and thelag between Assam and the rest of Indiawidened with relentless tempo. The levelof unconsciousness can be gauged fromthe fact that in the economics departmentsof the universities in the state there wasno awareness of the contemporary trendsin development economics.To the best of my knowledge there wasonly one sound empirical economist in thestate, late Prabhas Chandra Goswami, whotirelessly went on producing useful em-pirical studies, which were blithelyignoredby the political leadership.In the mean-time the ground under their feet wasregisteringa crescendo of vibrations ofincreasing intensity as the expectations ofthe people, including a huge number ofunemployed educated youths, founderedon persistent stagnation. In 1968 at theconvocation of Gauhati University, an eventuntil then considered sacred, the recipientsof degrees tore up their certificates beforethe horrified eyes of the eminent guests.It is hard to believe that popular move-ments had to be launched under the lead-ership of the Lachit Sena, the CPI, thesocialists and fire-brands like the lateNibaran Bora to force the government toestablish refineries of modest capacity inthe state to process part of the crude pro-duced there. In 1968 again there was anexplosion of anger against the affluentoutsiders in attacks on godowns and salesdepots of traders under the banner of amysterious and obscure organisation thatcalled itself Lachit Sena.Chauvinism was now taking an organisedform. Alarmed, the government took somehasty steps to industrialise the state, andindustrial complexes like the one atChandrapur in the outskirts of Guwahati(then still called Gauhati) came up.But the
Economic and Political WeeklyMarch 24, 20071015was the first official recognition after 15years of the threat of continuing infiltra-tion of foreigners, chiefly from Bangladesh.They thought they would be victimised.Whether because of some manipulationbyCongress (I) sympathisers in the bureau-cracy,or because of genuine human errorsome leading Muslim citizens,whoseancestors had come to the state centuriesago, including the popular and respectedauthor Syed Abdul Malik, were servednotices under the Act, fuelling Muslimfears. The AGP however, as mentionedearlier, did little to tackle the problem. Theminister given the portfolio of implement-ing the Assam Accord complained inces-santly that he was allotted little funds andfew men to do anything practical, and itwas a political ploy to sideline him. Theyouthful AGP leaders, buoyed up by publicsupport of unprecedented dimensions,recklessly concentrated on the privilegesbrought by power, distributing largesse,showering rewards and favours onhangers-on and sycophants, on whirlwind tours ofthe state to receive ovations of crowds, andso on. The bands of loyal intelligentsiakept praising and defending them in themedia while some were disgruntled toreceive no rewards. This policy boomer-anged as nepotism and corruption engulfedthe leadership, as illustratedby the LOCscam worth nearly a thousand crore loot-ing government coffers of sumptuousWorld Bank grants. Even people assidu-ous in seeking favours, were dismayed tosee the extent of public reaction. This ofcourse provided the Congress(I) with anopportunity to rebuild its shaken bases andencourage intellectuals in its own stablestocome out of hiding and mount a campaignof telling criticism of their irrresponsiblebehaviour.The AGP leaders took clever steps tomarginalise and send into political exiletheir rivals in the leadership of the Assammovement. Some ofthem joined the ranksof the BJP, whose influence was on theascendant ever since the RashtriyaSwayamsevak Sangh (RSS) started organi-sed systematic and open activities in thestate during the Janata Dal government ofwhich BJP was an important constituent.As mentioned earlier, the Left could notuse the opportunity, partly because theirbases were destroyed by semi-fascistviolenceand partly because their leader-ship had to toe a line laid down from above.The empty stage was now occupied by theULFA in the countryside, and they wereat once acclaimed by the followers of theAssam movement as new saviours. Thesaner section kept silent, and there wereonly a few warning voices. The ULFAtooka large troop of journalists on a conductedtour of their camps and assorted sites ofwelfare activities, resulting in glowingreports of their noble ideals and dedicationin the press. As mentioned, powerfulsections of the middle class had banked onthem to keep their power intact. But theywere to be disappointed in course of events.Apart from training in arms at the campsof the National SocialistCouncil ofNagalim (Khaplang) in the India-Myanmarborder, the ULFA had acquired certaintricks of realpolitik from their erstwhilecomrades in the Assam movement,playingon the frustrations anddreams of somepeople.ULFA’s Bear HugDuring the first term of the AGP inpower (1985-89), when some ministers inthe government were on first-name termswith leaders of the ULFA, the formerperhaps thought of winning over the ULFAwith indirect support and privilegesmonopolised in our country by so-calledVIPs. Powerful elements in the bureau-cracy and the police were friendly withthem, sending further waves of panic amongtargets of their intimidation and extortion.Suddenly the managers and superinten-dents of rich tea-plantations began receiv-ing notices for enormous sums of moneyand demands for shelter and otheradvantages.Located in remote areas, sometea garden executives complied, while somewere summarily executed, eg, the haughtySurendra Paul, brother of Swraj Paul, theIndian-English magnate in May 1990.Marwari traders and big merchants wereabducted and held to ransom. No one daredto accept the chairmanship of the KamrupChamber of Commerce after the murderof Harlalka, the politically influentialchairman, as well as his successor.The story goes that huge amounts ofmoney changed hands as big traders fromoutside bought security in a situationwherethe police appeared demoralised.The abduction and murder of the Russianoil technologist Sergei Grischenko in 1991who was innocent of any political links andobjectives merely “to internationalise theissue of self-determination of theAssamese”, as one fervent supporter statedin a statement to the press, was a particu-larly gruesome and serious incident. Thenfollowed a systematic intimidationofcritics,including the murder of journalistand social activist Kamala Saikia of thethen Sibsagar district, and ManabendraSarma, a Congress(I) leader of some promi-nence and integrity, and threats in stronglanguage against D N Bezbarua and thisauthor of imminent peril to their lives. Insome areas they virtually ran a parallelgovernment. But they felt secure becauseof the indecisiveness and inaction of theAGP leaders, who certainly disapprovedof the murders but did not see how todisengage themselves from the ULFA’sbear hug. It was only after the treatmentthat the managers of the Doomdooma tea-estate,a small but flourishing gardenbelonging to Hindusthan Lever got, thatthe centre, then with Chandrasekhar as theinterim prime minister that powerful tea-interests in London took up the matter withthe Indian High Commission, which per-suaded the centre to take action. About 14tea executives, in a state of siege, were air-lifted to Calcutta (as it was then called)and the Indian Army launched OperationBajrang. Even then news of the impendingattack was leaked a day or two before bypro-ULFA elements in a “porous” bureau-cracy, and many ULFA leaders and unitshastily decamped. Devidas Thakur, emi-nent lawyer and governor of Assam for ashort period, tried manfully to tone up thepolice force and local administration againstthe panic spread by ULFA’s attacks andshrewdly kept the door open for negotia-tions. But he was recalled by hard-linersinDelhi who believed in making short workof ULFA through a pre-emptive attack.The army’s efforts netted some of thetop leaders of the ULFA, some ofwhomlike Pradip Gogoi, Chitraban Hazarika arestill languishing in jail, and some includingits chairman Aurobinda Rajkhowa, esca-ped after sitting down to a parley with thecentre’s leaders in Delhi. Some leaderslike Siddhartha Phukan, Jugal KishoreMahanta, and Kalpajyoti Neog “returnedto the mainstream” by surrendering andmuscling into lucrative government con-tracts, check-gates for collecting tolls andtaxes, and the wholesale trade in fish fromoutside, and so on. The plunder was dif-ferent only in degree from much that wasgoing on in the name of government, buttheir possession of arms and freedom frompolice interference gave them a big advan-tage over other plunderers. They became,along with many other small fry, collec-tively known as SULFA (‘SurrenderedULFA’, perhaps a solecism), though it willbe fair to add that a few refrained from
Economic and Political WeeklyMarch 24, 20071016such activities, and stuck it out in insecu-rity and obscurity. In the meantime theULFA declared all “Indians” as foreignersand started issuing commands to them toleave Assam or else.Some time later the ULFA re-groupedand the chairman Aurobinda Rajkhowaand the commander-in-chief Paresh Baruadeclared the first talks a fraud and a ployto disarm them without anything substan-tial in return. The intelligence agenciesnow declared that they had bases in Bangla-desh where they found shelter andreceivedtraining in sophisticated weapons fromBangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the ISI. TheULFA stoutly denied and mocked at suchclaims, but the persistent attempts of theIndian government led after many yearsto the arrest of one of the top ULFA leadersin Bangladesh and he has been held inBangladesh prisons ever since under onepretext or another, or some say in protec-tive custody. Shortly after Hiteswar Saikiawas elected chief minister after master-miding the return of Congress to power inthe state, he expressed a desire to see me,and I met him though normally I avoidpoliticians in power. But I was curious toknow his plans for the future of Assam.In the course of a rambling conversation,with each of us somewhat mistrustful ofthe other, he showed me a diary ofAurobinda Rajkhowa, ULFA chairman,seized during a surprise raid on an ULFAcamp. It might have been a police fabri-cation for all I know, but its passion didnot support such a theory. Rajkhowa gavethere a detailed account of his meetingswith top Bangladeshi officials, who hadapparently convinced him that Bangladeshinationalism was different from Bengalichauvinism, which he regarded as a mortalenemy of Assam. There came into circu-lation soon after stories of Paresh Barua,the dreaded C-in-C of the ULFA, havingbecome a prosperous business tycoon inBangladesh and that the ULFA had be-come a pawn in the hands of the ISI, whichhad a foothold in Bangladesh. No directproof has yet come to public knowledge,but circumstantial evidence like the appealof Rajkhowa to the Assamese to supportthe liberation of Kashmir from “Indiancolonialists”, or the recent pogrom againstHindi-speakers in the state would seem tobear that out. Of course, the brutal attackon Hindi-speaking labourers might also bea vicious retaliation against the huntingdown of ULFA cadres by the army.Assamese society and culture had beeninspired by bourgeois liberal humanismleavened by religion since the expansionand consolidation of the middle class undergovernment connivance down to the 1960s.But it was to be increasingly under pres-sure from economic stagnation whichprevented further expansion to accommo-date ethnic and tribal aspirants. The late1960s saw a a hardening of Assamese sub-nationalism and vehement expression ofrage by deprived tribals and certain ethniccastes (eg, the Plains Tribal Council ofAssam and the Tai-Ahom separatist move-ments) against what they regarded as anAssamese upper-caste conspiracy to keepthem down. The Left sought to step in butthe leadership, divided into pro-Congressand anti-Congress camps, could not agreeon a common strategy and programme.The CPI(M) kept aloof from the secondrefinery movement, but the CPI joined it.There is reason to believe that the radicalchallenge to the government was deflectedby the police itself, encouraging an ultra-left movement to gain ground against moreexperienced and mature organisations. Thenew radicals were inspired by China andtheNaxalites and there was an explosion oflittle magazines, poetry and plays to theacclaim of excited youths, having visionsof Naxalbari, then Srikakulam and Bhojpur.Even the All-India Radio broadcast blood-curdling revolutionary plays, which inci-dentally denounced cowards playing atrevolution without arms. When the radicalwave subsided the radio first broadcastdramas of sober self-searching, and thenofhorror of violence, and finally outrightcondemnation of revolutionaries as outrightmurderous escapists. Likewise literary revo-lutions also faded away without bringingany satisfaction to the lost generation.Crude PoliticsThe cultural vacuum was filled by old-style nationalism that became increasinglyintemperate, uncompromising, and violent.The state government, like that at the centre,had become more and more authoritarianand repression of all popular movementsbecame the rule, culminating in the dec-laration of the Emergency. A fascist typeof mentality also took root among thelumpen bourgeoisie, which came into itsown in some phases of the Assam move-ment among sections of its supporters. Theextraordinary cunning, calculated displaysand cold cruelty may be illustrated notonlyby the murders which may be seenas retaliation on soft targets against policebrutalities like gunning down of sevenyouths by the police at Ponka in Golaghatdistrict and police action which shot deadhundreds of misguided youths who triedto oppose the controversial 1983 elections,but by such pure horrors as burying aliveof two CPI(M) supporters and cutting offof fingers and toes of a young CPI(ML)worker in the undivided Kamrup district.Following the decay in human values ofwhich society has become only now awarewith dismay, crude politics appeared torule everything.For some time at least, Aajir Asom,editedby the democratic freedom fighter,Radhika Mohan Bhagavati, held the fort(preceded by another paper edited by himwhere he published the very few critics ofthe movement that was sweeping every-thing before it) by following a moderatecourse, publishing reasoned criticism ofthe movement without offending themassesinvolved, and reporting and de-ploring the atrocities on both sides. Thiswas opposed by a new brand of journalismmore attuned to the general trend of theAssam movement, and later of the ULFA,which was inaugurated by a brilliantgraduateof Delhi School of Economics,who felt his tremendous drive and energysuffocated by the stagnation of Assam andwho held the leaders of the Assam move-ment responsible for it, Parag Kumar Das,who became during his meteoric career thespokesman of the rebellious youth ofAssam. Initially sceptical, he soon threwin his lot with the ULFA and almostbecamea mentor for them. He gave atheoretical gloss to their aims, defendedthem during their blood-spattered blun-ders, and gave vent to a volcanic andincessant denunciation of the corruptionand hypocrisy of the government and theatrocities of the army in the countryside.He was joined in this crusade by AjitBhuyan, later the editor of Protidin, soonto become the highest circulated Assamesedaily. That both were not without politicalaspirations was seen in the use of theirinfluence in bringing Prafulla Mahantaback to power, though with his Machia-vellian panache. Mahanta soon threwthemby the wayside. Their bonds with theULFA grew stronger duringhis chiefministership.We must at this point revert to HiteswarSaikia to comment on this extremelycontroversial if highly capable chiefministerand Congress leader. LikeMahanta before him he also bewildered thepeople of Assam by being hailed by Delhipoliticians and influential circles as the
Economic and Political WeeklyMarch 24, 20071017tallest man in Assam and being showeredwith honours and titles like “the Man ofthe Hour”, “Assam Ratna”, and “Saviourof Assam” even when their misrule reachedscandalous proportions. Saikia had dedi-cated his life to the service of the Gandhifamily as their able satrap in Assam. Thoughafter the Assam Accord he was removedto Mizoram as its governor, he kept a closewatch on the affairs in Assam, playedhostto power-hungry writers andartists letdown by Mahanta, and throughhis emissaries rebuilt the organisation andmorale of the Congress in the state. Duringthe Operation Bajrang he came down toAssam to canvass support for it. After aspell of president’s rule, elections wereheld in the state, returning him to power,thanks to the power-drunk irresponsibilityof Prafulla Mahanta’s team. Saikia hadbuilt up, under the tutelage of Deva KantaBarua, an OBC elite as counterweight tothe upper-caste elite. But the former wasnumerically weaker, it was as opportunis-tic and avid for loaves and fishes as thelatter. With their moral support Saikiaruledthe state during February 1983 toDecember 1985 andagainfrom June 1991to April 1996 with aniron fist. He had anauthoritarian streak in him. On the veryday he took office, 14 members of thelegislature belonging to the Congress wereabducted by the ULFA. He weathered suchmoments of crisis, and yet managed tobring about the first peace talks with theULFA, who however could get nothing inreturn excepthigh-flown rhetoric in theirpraise. Some top leaders who had beencaught and herded into the talks slippedaway during the journey back from Delhiand denounced the whole business as afraud. Asmentioned above, Saikia’s termin office were marked by mutual vendettavis-a-vis the ULFA, who killed six ofSaikia’s close relatives, and the police andthe army who gunned down many ULFAleaders and cadres. Encounter deaths (thenature of which hardly needs any elabo-ration), torture, humiliating treatment ofentire villages, reported cases of rape andlooting by security personnel, andlandmines and bomb-blasts by the ULFAthat took a heavy toll of innocent livesforced people to live on the edge for aprolonged period in agony and panic.Bomb-blasts at Guwahati railway stationkilled dozens of hapless porters andpassengers,and the army wiped out awedding party under the mistaken notionthat it was a convoy of militants. No onefelt safe or free.Growing impatience and anger againstthe atrocirties on both sides, which did nothold out any promise of peace rallied thepublic of Assam against the excesses ofboth the parties. A rare unity was formedof all groups opposed to Saikia and piningfor the return of peace and normalcy. Forexample, the present writer worked inaccord with the All Assam Students’ Union(AASU) to call a halt to the barbarities,even though the AASU had remained silentwhen most responsible people in the statehad condemned the physical attack on himduring the grim days of the Assam move-ment. The growing resistance to the bal-ance of terror in the state cost Saikia thenext election (in December 1985), and hesuccumbed to a massive stroke under thestress of it all. Mahanta’s second term,May 1996 to May 2001, begun with uni-versal relief in the state and expected tobe tempered with experience of his pre-vious defeat again descended precipitatelyinto an immense quagmire of corruptionand misrule, massive purchase of venalwriters and artists, many of whom werestout cheerleaders not long ago in Saikia’scamp, and a series of “secret killings”carried out by shadowy people, reportedto be acombined team of police anddegenerate SULFA leaders. At least thatis what a luckyfugitive from their clutchessaid before the press and the courts. Thebeginning ofMahanta’s first year in officewitnessed the gunning down of ParagKumar Das, the firebrand journalist, ULFAideologue and civil rights worker againstarmy’s atrocities. Twenty thousand mourn-ing people followed his last journey to thecremation ground.Groping for SolutionsAs we have seen,Mahanta’s second termin office became marked by a bloody chaos.The army’s presence prevented the ULFAfrom getting the upper hand, but could notprevent them from committing acts ofmurder, arson,sabotage and abduction atwill. The Indian Army had better intelli-gence output this time, helped by certainformer ULFA elements who now turnedagainst their former friends and by spieslocally recruited by the army. The armyunder these circumstances could not dis-tinguish between genuine ULFA membersand active supporters on the one hand andmere suspects wrongly informed against,people who held favourable opinions, andpeople reported by the spies out ofpersonalgrudges on the other. Things were muchmore terrible in the countryside where therule of law had in the best of timesappearedto favour the strong and powerful, and thecommon people were thrown into utterpanic. People outside Assam had no ideaof the pall of uncertainty and terror thecommon people were thrown into, asmetropolitan dailies continued to hailMahanta for bringing peace back toAssam.The state police were at logger-heads with the army, with the latter accus-ing the former of cowardice, corruptionand complicity with the ULFA, and thepolice in turn accusing the army of rough-neck, indiscriminate violence andbrutality.Mutual recriminations reached such a pitchthat a Unified Command Structure had tobe rigged up under the chief minister asits chairman. But the structure could rarelyfunction properly with such heterogeneousconstituents and the chief minister alwayshad other serious matters to attend to.Some of the victims of the ULFA alsosuccumbed to information supplied bylumpen supporters on whom they dependedmore and more as the numbers of theirfollowers dwindled everywhere. A case inpoint was the grisly murder of SanjayGhosh in 1997, a brave and dedicatedsocial worker who worked selflessly torouse from bitter apathy and despair thepeople of the isolated river-island, Majuli,ravaged by floods caused by wrong-headedriver-control plans, corrupt officials inleague with thugs turned contractors, andby their knowledge that crores of rupeesallotted for development of the region,regarded holy by most Assamese wereentering into a bottomless sink. SanjayGhosh worked among them, showed themthrough ingenious means how to helpthemselves to confront negligent andcorrupt officials, expose their frauds andforce them to complete government sche-mes of rural development with somehonesty. He also introduced from UNICEFand OXFAM innovative ideas of simple,cheap self-development. This ought to havebrought him closer to the ULFA, whoprofessed to serve the people. Instead itbrought him into dangerous confrontationwith the ULFA who murdered him bru-tally on suspicion of his being an agent ofIndia’s external intelligence agency, theResearch and Analysis Wing (RAW). Ihadvisited Majuli myself some years ago(adebilitating chronic illness has often pre-vented me from going on long journeys)and heard people there telling of theirshock and profound grief at his death. Infact, it was in homage to his brave and
EPW

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