The BJP has defied the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (Ulfa-I) and fielded Bhaskar Sarma, a former member of the militant outfit, to contest polls from the Margherita assembly seat in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district.
Sarma is accused of masterminding the systematic killing of friends, relatives and sympathisers of the banned group from 1997-2000. Last month, the Ulfa-I had asked the BJP to drop his name from the panel list for the Margherita assembly seat.
The organisation has retaliated by sending a team from Myanmar to Tinsukia district. Police said the subversive mission, timed with Ulfa-I’s ‘army day’ on Wednesday, could have been designed to destabilise the pre-poll atmosphere in Assam.
“The ‘secret (extra-judicial) killings’ were carried out during Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s Asom Gana Parishad-led coalition government. It led to AGP’s downfall,” the Ulfa-I said, indicating the BJP would face the same fate if it fielded Sarma. The organisation has also imposed a ban on any electioneering activity of Sarma and has appealed to people to maintain a safe distance from him.
Meanwhile, a BJP spokesperson said, “We chose our candidates on the basis of their popularity, not because this or that group wants or does not want him.”
Investigations into the ‘secret killings’ had culminated in the report of the KN Saikia Commission.
The report provided details about the killings, which were organised from the state’s corridor of power and executed by a section of surrendered Ulfa militants and the police, with cooperation from the army.
The ruling Congress has seized the opportunity to rake up the ‘secret killings’ and make it a poll issue.
“The BJP was at the Centre when the AGP government carried out that ghastly episode to snuff out the lives of 855 innocent people. We will tell people how the two have once again formed an unholy nexus to play with their lives,” chief minister Tarun Gogoi said.
Sarma is a member of Sulfa, or Surrendered Ulfa, which mostly comprises those who bid farewell to arms in 1992.
Members of the two groups have attacked each other since. The biggest strike was when 15 Sulfa members were gunned down in eastern Assam’s Moran in June 2001.
In 2013, the Ulfa formally split into the pro-talks group led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and the anti-talks Ulfa-I led by commander-in-chief Paresh Barua.
Last year, the Ulfa-I forged a rebel alliance with other northeast outfits.