The anti-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) has extended support to Anna Hazare’s anti-graft crusade. But it wants the 74-year-old Gandhain and his team to reciprocate for its objective – sovereignty of Assam.
The anti-talks group of the outlawed outfit is headed by its military chief Paresh Barua who is the only top leader at large and opposed to the peace process unless ‘colonial India’ discusses the issue of sovereignty.
In an emailed statement issued by Ulfa publicity director Arunodoy Dahotia on Friday, the outfit patted Team Anna for its “remarkable fight against corruption” while being critical of “hangers-on” in Assam who have “made it a fashion” to take out anti-graft rallies “in vehicles their parents purchased with ill-gotten wealth”.
“We appeal to Team Anna to also fight against the illegal occupation of Assam by the Indian government. If they are true Gandhians, they will empathize with the sufferings of the indigenous Assamese people under Indian occupation,” the statement said.
Security experts were quick to underline the irony of the statement. “An outfit that has relied on bloodshed is now talking non-violence,” said a senior police officer.
The Ulfa’s conditional support for Hazare is the second from the Northeast. Earlier this week, Manipur rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu had written to Hazare seeking his support for her fight against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958.
Sharmila has been fasting since 4 November 2000 for the repeal of this act that is believed to give soldiers the license to kill. Sharmila also wrote: “I would have liked to participate in your (Hazare’s) fast for the Jan Lokpal Bill, but I cannot since I am in judicial custody.”