Guwahati, January 22: Assam’s rebel group ULFA (Independent) could target BJP workers taking advantage of the volatile situation in the state in the wake of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the state’s police intelligence chief said on Monday.
“We are a bit apprehensive after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha and the ensuing agitation in the state,” said Pallab Bhattacharyya, Director General of Police, in-charge of Special Branch. “The situation is fragile. In this surcharged atmosphere vulnerable groups like Hindi speakers, Bengali Hindus and BJP workers could be the likely target of ULFA (I).”
Last November, five marginal farmers, all Bengali speaking Hindus, were gunned down in Tinsukia. The police had said the ULFA (I) was behind the attack even as the outfit denied any involvement.
Bhattacharyya said ongoing protests against the Bill, especially in Brahmaputra Valley and the upcoming Republic Day have turned the situation volatile amid intelligence inputs about the movement of armed ULFA (I) cadres in various groups.
Two BJP?offices were vandalised in Dibrugarh and Golaghat on January 8 during a bandh and chief Sarbananda Sonowal and his ministers have been facing black flag demonstrations ever since the Lok Sabha passed the Bill.
According to officials familiar with developments, there have been reports about the presence of at least four separate groups of ULFA (I) insurgents in the past few days. Officials said there is a possibility of them being joined by militants belonging to the Naga rebel group NSCN (Khaplang) in Tinsukia in Assam and in Changlang in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh which also shares a border with Myanmar where the militants have their camps. Officials suspect that these groups have political workers, especially of the BJP in their hit list.
“There is not much movement inside Assam. They usually cross over from neighbouring states carry out a crime and again move out,” said Bhattacharyya. He also said there is a need to strengthen the police in districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding in Arunachal Pradesh and Mon and Tuensang in Nagaland.
Meanwhile, an economic blockade by a student outfit of the Moran community in Tinsukia has added to the worries of the police.
“They are holding up a coal train in since yesterday in Makum,” Bhattacharyya said adding how oil blockade “was a potent tool during the Assam agitation in 1979.”
Arunjyoti Moran, the president of the All Assam Moran Students Union confirmed the protests and said the students’ body has also stopped oil tankers on some routes.
“We want immediate Scheduled Tribe status for Morans. We want an autonomous district council and they should scrap the Citizenship Bill,” Moran said. He also accused the government of delaying conferring the ST status by appointing another committee.
“These Morans and Muttocks form the stock of entry into the ULFA (I),” Bhattacharyya explained why it was a worrisome development.
Since January 2018, 29 people have joined ULFA (I) , according to official figures.
“The situation is under control. But the trend of agitation is building up. Once the Bill goes to the Rajya Sabha for voting, protests will increase again,” Bhattacharyya said with a caveat that it is still not like the anti-foreigners agitation in 1979. “This one is organized by some parties and subdued. That was spontaneous,” he said. (Courtesy: HT)