Ever since the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) exploded on Assam’s subversive scene in 1989, the outfit has almost ritually struck in the days leading to Republic Day and Independence Day to convey a strong message to “occupational India”.
It has also carried out attacks before April 7, the day it was raised in 1979, and November 27, its day to protest the ban imposed on it in 1990.
Security forces have had to contend with other rebel groups, but is that an excuse for intelligence failure?
Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Bhaskar Mahanta claimed the police had intelligence inputs and were expecting subversion ahead of November 27 and after the arrest of top ULFA leaders Sashadhar Choudhury and Chitrabon Hazarika earlier this month.
“We act on intelligence, and one of the inputs resulted in the killing of two ULFA cadres in Nalbari last week,” Mahanta said. “Sunday’s twin blasts were a failure on our part to provide foolproof security, but you also have to appreciate that
we thwart 95 of 100 attempts.”
That ULFA was itching to demonstrate its strength was evident from the November 16 blast that derailed and destroyed 16 tankers of a petroleum-laden goods train in eastern Assam.
The blast came after the government claimed ULFA was a spent force after the two arrests.