Banned ULFA-I ‘executes’ 2 cadres in Assam on charges of spying for police
GUWAHATI: The banned United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) on Saturday claimed to have executed two of its newly recruited cadres from Assam for allegedly spying against the outfit at the behest of the state police—a move which could affect the expected peace talks with the outfit.
In a notice issued through social media, the outfit claimed that two youngsters, Dhanjit Das of Barpeta and Sanjib Sarma of Baihata Chairali, were given ‘death sentence’ after they were found guilty by the outfit’s lower judicial council on May 4 and May 5 respectively.
“Since the crime committed by both cadres are unpardonable, as per decision of the lower judicial council they were given undesired death today on May 7,” said the notice issued by self-styled brigadier A.Z. Shironam Asom.
The notice said that Dhanjit Das, who recently joined the outfit, had fled from a camp on April 24 and was captured by ULFA-I a day later. It said that during interrogation, Das confessed to have prodded several newly recruited cadres to surrender.
“He accepted that during his attempts to join the outfit, he was secretly in touch with a few police officials with the intention of handing over our supporters/well wishers to Assam police,” the notice said.
On May 4, the lower judicial council held him guilty of escaping from the outfit during a special operation, encouraging others to leave the outfit and involvement in anti-revolutionary activities and sentenced him to death, it added.
The outfit claimed that Sanjib Sarma had confessed about joining ULFA-I on directions of police officers and with the greed for money with the intention of passing the outfit’s internal communications to police using modern technology so that ULFA-I commanders and cadres could be eliminated.
On Saturday, ULFA-I also released a video in which the two youngsters were seen admitting to have acted on behalf of the police and against ULFA-I.
“While working for Assam police I used to believe ULFA-I is a terrorist outfit. Only after I joined it, I realised that it is a revolutionary organisation working to protect Assam’s society and territory. Fuelled by greed for money and instigations by police, I committed anti-Assamese tasks. I urge youngsters not to fall for such traps and bring their own deaths,” Sanjib said in the video.
“I had joined ULFA-I for the greed of money and on instigations by Assam police officers. I had tried to escape from the outfit’s camp and take along other newly recruited cadres with me. I have realised my mistake and urge youngsters not to take such steps and welcome their own deaths like me,” Dhanjit said in the video.
Senior Assam police officials refused to comment on the ULFA-I accusations or veracity of the claims made by the outfit about executing two cadres for allegedly spying on behalf of the police.
“He had left home on March 22 without informing anything to me. I hope this news isn’t true and ULFA-I forgives him and lets him return home,” Dhanjit’s wife Suman told journalists. The Barpeta resident, who’s in his early 30s, used to work as a salesman in a cloth store, and has a four-year-old son.
“I just came to know about the news. They (ULFA-I) shouldn’t have killed such a young boy. Sanjib left home in March and would have turned 19 next month. His father (who works as a daily wage labourer) left home early in the morning and has no clue about it. What will I tell him when he returns?” said Sanjib’s mother Junu Devi.
On April 26, ULFA-I released a video in which Sanjib was seen mentioning that he was sent by senior police officials to infiltrate the outfit and pass on messages about its internal developments to the security agencies. A day later, the outfit released a list of nine persons who were allegedly being trained by police to spy on the outfit.
After the release of the video, joint commissioner of police (Guwahati) Partha Sarathi Mahanta (who was named by Sanjib as having instigated him to infiltrate ULFA) denied the accusations. “I don’t know why he took my name,” he said.
In recent months, there have been several reports of youngsters from across Assam leaving their homes and jobs in order to join ULFA-I. According to estimates, this year 234 persons have left their homes and families to join the outfit.
According to police and intelligence officers familiar with the matter, with possibility of peace talks with ULFA-I taking place, many unemployed youngsters who have family problems are starting to join the outfit with a hope of gaining some benefit through rehabilitation packages if a peace deal is signed in the near future.
Police officials familiar with the matter said that while there used to be reports of executions of ULFA-I cadres in the 1990s for alleged violations of the outfit’s constitution, such incidents had not been reported in recent years.
Since the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government under chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took charge in Assam in May last year, there have been indications both from the government and the outfit that they could sit for peace talks.
Citing Covid-19, ULFA-I declared unilateral ceasefire in May 2021 (which still continues). The move was seen as precursor to peace talks. But now with the outfit accusing police of sending infiltrators in the guise of cadres and the death sentences given to Dhanjit and Sanjib, the process could hit a roadblock.
Insurgency in Assam started in April, 1979 with formation of ULFA as an offshoot of the anti-foreigner’s agitation against inflow of illegal immigrants to the state from Bangladesh (former East Pakistan). The stated aim of the outfit was to create an independent Assam.
In February, 2011, ULFA split into two groups—one group led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa that decided to give up its violent past and sit for talks with Centre without any condition and another led by commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, which decided against talks and rebranded as ULFA-Independent. It still maintains that sovereignty should be on the agenda for the outfit to sit for peace talks.