United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) rebels on peace mode have sounded a warning to their former surrendered colleagues who control most lucrative businesses: make space or face the music.
Ulfa peaceniks who called truce three years ago and are living in designated camps have justified their intention to turn traders from revolutionaries. They say they need money to overcome a serious financial crisis in the organization.
The peaceniks number some 200 and are caught between two extremes – the anti-talks hardliners led by the outfit’s commander Paresh Barua and the Sulfa (Surrendered Ulfa) comprising rebels who bid adieu since 1992 and took control of contractual works and major business such as coal trade and wholesale of essentials.
"We are facing an acute shortage of funds for the past eight months. So we have decided to get into business to tide over the crisis," said peaceniks' leader Mrinal Hazarika Friday evening. He was the 'commander' of a dreaded Ulfa battalion based in Myanmar.
The Ulfa peace process began after Hazarika and three other dreaded leaders were caught since 2007. Other top leaders including Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and deputy commander-in-chief Raju Barua were apprehended later.
Hazarika said his boys would foray into coal trade in Guwahati that the Sulfa has monopolized since the 1990s. "We'll try and come to an understanding (with Sulfa) but things can turn worse if they resist or reject our overtures," Hazarika said.
Earlier, chief minister Tarun Gogoi said that rebels on ceasefire mode received money from the government on regular basis for maintenance of their designated camps. "All militant groups other than Ulfa are provided subsistence," he said without revealing how much money is released for the rebels.