The pressure on United Liberation Front of Asom’s (Ulfa) elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Barua is mounting. This time, it is from Assamese housewives accusing him of murder.
Barua has been on the back foot since the arrest of four of Ulfa’s heavyweights including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa over the past two months. Adding to his misery are housewives – all victims of his rebel group’s violence.
One such housewife is Mridula Deka, widow of All Assam Students Union (Aasu) leader Upen Deka. “Barua must have masterminded the killing of my husband,” she said. Her conviction was on the basis of a threat letter the Ulfa had served Deka in 1990.
Deka, from Nalbari in western Assam, was gunned down on January 11, 1997 in Guwahati. Unidentified miscreants also killed his brother-in-law that day.
“The allegation is baseless,” Barua told a couple of local TV channels on Saturday. “The Ulfa had no hand in the killing of Deka, who we still respect for his contribution to our cause.”
The accusation comes barely a fortnight after housewives in Dhemaji town said none of the Ulfa leaders could be pardoned for the crimes they had committed.
“They should face severe punishment,” said Lobita Saikia, who lost her daughters – Aruna and Rupa – in a blast at Dhemaji on August 15, 2005. The two were among 13 persons the blast had claimed in the town 450 km northeast of Guwahati.
Barua had last month apologized for the blast that was meant for targeted government officials including the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Dhemaji district. But at the same time he passed the buck to leaders of the outfit on ceasefire mode.
This elicited a strong reaction from the Ulfa’s pro-talks faction. “Baruah has lost his mental balance and his accusations are a bunch of lies," said Mrinal Hazarika, leader of the faction that is 150 cadres strong. “He is a paper tiger issuing statements to show he is not a spent force and as isolated as people think him to be.”