Ulfa casts shadow on Hindi hub in Assam
Though there is latent hostility to Hindi in this rebel haunt 491 km east of Assam capital Guwahati, settlers from the Hindi heartland have, however, invariably determined its political destiny post-militancy.india Updated: Mar 31, 2011 02:37 IST
Though there is latent hostility to Hindi in this rebel haunt 491 km east of Assam capital Guwahati, settlers from the Hindi heartland have, however, invariably determined its political destiny post-militancy.
Tinsukia, a vital trade centre of the easternmost part of India, is often regarded as the Hindi speakers’ hub of the Northeast. But with 30,000 voters, they are numerically behind the Bengalis (44,000) and the Assamese (34,000).
Bengalis were the preferred punch-bags until the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) trained its guns at Hindi speakers, who it believed replaced the British with the agenda of colonising 'independent Assam'.
Since 1999-2000, Ulfa has killed more than 300 Hindi speakers to "send a message to the pro-Hindi New Delhi". Tinsukia bore the brunt because it hosts the jungles Ulfa initially operated from and adjoins strategic strips providing access to Myanmar rebel bases.
Terror in Tinsukia also has a symbolic significance for Ulfa. Jerai Chokoliboria, the native village of the outfit's military chief Paresh Barua, is barely 35 km from Tinsukia town.
Ulfa is a divided house today, but security forces know the anti-talks faction led by Barua has a nuisance value. The outfit, vowing to disrupt the poll process, has already made an abortive bid on Hindi-speaking Congress leader Bhola Shah on the outskirts of Tinsukia town.
"Fear lurks because Tinsukia has always been a soft target for Ulfa," said a local Congress leader backing party candidate Rajendra Prasad Singh to complete a hat trick of wins.