Has militancy in Assam turned round a corner?
ULFA terrorists in Assam have launched a new campaign of violence in the north eastern state. But this time round, public support for them seems to be weakening with every new attack. The public, it appears, has not only tired of the violence, but also seen through the realities of the terrorists’ agenda.
Militancy in Assam may just have turned round a corner, and it may be time for a broader process of political reconciliation. But it must remain amply clear that outfits such as ULFA will remain beyond the pale, as long as they retain violence as an option to settle their grievances.
Pradeep Panjuvam, a journalist in Imphal, says people are wearying of the agitation, and its leaders are now under pressure to reach a negotiated settlement rather than watch it fizzle out. But there is enough anger to fan the flames for a while yet. [Economist]
“We all have a weakness for the underground movement, fighting for the cause of Assam. We have the same frustrations against the government of India,” said journalist Mrinal Talukdar.
“But what these people are doing now is a simple extortion racket. They have been blasting oil pipelines and killing people, but for whom? For what?”
Popular support may be waning, but that does not mean the movement is dead.
ULFA gets cash through extortion and kidnapping, and support, intelligence officials say, from neighbouring Bangladesh, where most of its camps are located, and from Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI.[Reuters]