The Paresh Barua faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has accused the BJP state president and chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal of planning social worker Sanjoy Ghose’s murder in July 1997, just ahead of the April elections.
The faction, now called ULFA-Independent, also accused BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma of collaborating with Sonowal in using the ULFA to kill Ghosh and student leader Saurav Bora.
“Some political career-oriented killers like Sarbananda, Himanta, etc., had masterminded the murders of Saurav Bora, Sanjoy Ghose and several others with the help of ULFA for the sake of securing their political space. All these attacks were planned, carried out without the knowledge and sanction of the ULFA commander-in-chief (Barua). Sonowal was, in fact, with some of our colleagues till the time Bora was murdered,” ULFA assistant publicity secretary Arunodoy Asom said in an emailed statement.
Sanjoy, the nephew of former Doordarshan chief Bhaskar Ghose and former diplomat Arundhati Ghose, was working on a development project on Majuli, the island assembly constituency Sonowal is contesting.
Sonowal and Sarma were both leaders of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which led the six-year Assam Agitation at the time the ULFA was born. Sonowal went on to be the president of the union before joining the regional Asom Gana Parisad (AGP) and then the BJP in 2011.
Sarma, on the other hand, joined the Congress. He quit the party to join the BJP in September last year.
Bora was shot on Dibrugarh University campus in 1986. The case, investigated by the local police and CID, was transferred to the CBI in 1988. Sonowal and five others were the prime accused in the murder, but the Gauhati High Court discharged them.
The ULFA-I had accused former colleague Bhaskar Sarma of having led the ‘secret killings’ episode during the second term of AGP from 1996-2001. Secret killings, a term given to extra-judicial killings, saw more than 800 family members and relatives of ULFA members being killed systematically.
The ULFA said making the role of Sonowal known to Bora’s family and his relatives besides the people of Assam, was its moral responsibility.
But the timing of the accusation – after Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the BJP and AGP were responsible for “secret killings” – has raised eyebrows.
Calling the accusation politically-motivated, BJP spokesman Rupam Goswami said, “It is surprising that they waited 30 years to make this accusation.”
Arunodoy further said the ULFA had chosen Sonowal as head of the AASU, and many leaders of regional parties had used members of the banned outfit to achieve their political ambitions.
“Some of them later killed our men with the help of occupational (Indian) forces for selfish gains,” Arunodoy said, referring to the extra-judicial killings.
In a blunt reference to the AGP-BJP alliance, Arunodoy said Sonowal and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s coming together along with others would only endanger the lives of the people.
“…But natiya nayak (national hero) Sonowal’s plan, devised at the New Delhi residence of Amit Shah to fulfil his political ambitions by endangering and ruining the lives of the Assamese people, will not succeed,” the outfit added.