Cashing in on the fear it generates comes easily to the ULFA. But putting all the money it collects at gunpoint to “revolutionary use” is not as easy, not even for an outfit that has reportedly amassed around Rs 3,000 crore in the 27 years of its existence.
It is widely believed that much of the ULFA’s extorted money is lying unused, hidden in forgotten vaults. And, this belief has drawn bandits of all hues to Nalbari, a district notorious as the hub of militancy.
Nalbari and the adjoining Rangiya area of Kamrup district have witnessed some 20 cases of dacoity in the past few months. District authorities attribute them to “revitalised” miscreants emboldened by the Ulfa’s waning clout here.
Last week, eight bandits were caught red-handed. On being grilled, they confessed they were hunting for Ulfa booty. Much to the embarrassment of the police, three of them turned out to constables of the 14th Assam Police Battalion.
Also among the eight was Hussain Ali, a clairvoyant who claimed to have used his mystic powers to trace the “treasure”, apparently under a house in Marowa. Another treasure-tracking ojha was caught near Rangiya guiding bandits to more hidden money.
There have also been some accidental discoveries in the past. Like when security forces stumbled on Rs 2 crore stashed away in a tea-packaging firm in Lahowal town in 1990, or found seven trunks full of hard cash from an encounter site in Dhubri 20 months ago.