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Assam makes for furious Internet debate

The latest killings in Assam by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) have only intensified a furious debate already raging in Orkut.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2007 09:30 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

The latest killings in Assam by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) have only intensified a furious debate already raging in Orkut, a free internet-based discussion forum, with its 'members' equally divided between supporting the militant group and opposing their terror actions vehemently.

Created on April 28, 2006 by "|†äñMäy| .." (as the creator of the community writes his name in Orkut), the ULFA supporters in this Internet community, which happens to be also known as ULFA, are motivated by the idea that "a nation (read Assam) under foreign (read Indian) occupation have no alternative other than to fight for freedom and national liberation".

But not all who exchanged views are belligerent in their outlook towards India. There is a major chunk in the community who consider the outfit as a curse on the state.

"They are killers of innocent children and destroyer of many a compassionate human beings. I am an Assamese and like 99 percent of Assamese people, I refuse to accept that there is anything cool about ULFA. They are plain murderers," said a message posted by an anonymous member.

"Forget ULFA. If they gain power they will be more corrupted. If we want to do something good we should have some intellectual analysis of the problems and possible methodologies to solve the problems. Being Indian is a better part of our identity than being Assamese. Let's humbly acknowledge it," the message added.

Another anonymous message appreciates the undeniable contribution to the Indian economy by the Marwaris in the state, challenging the ULFA view that Marwaris should be thrown out of the state as their business was exploitative and had done harm to the state.

"It is mainly the Marwaris, Sindhis and to some extent Parsis, who have made a huge contribution to the Indian economy," the message said.

However, there are members in this community who oppose these views, given their diehard allegiance to the ideology of the militant outfit.

"My dear friend it is easy to say 'ghrina karoo ulfak' (I hate ULFA), but they are fighting for a strong cause. I believe and support it. You may have not seen the 'cruelty of India'. You will see when you visit our villages where our mothers and sisters are 'raped' by the Indian Army and our brothers killed. This is my land and I will never allow any Indian here," reads a fierce message by Bhaskar, an Orkutian who condemns those supportive of the Indian Army and the Indian state.

He cites the example of Raju Baruah, a girl from Darrang College, who was allegedly raped and killed by Indian troops in the early 90s, during an operation against the ULFA.

Bhaskar also refers to the sizeable Bihari and Marwari population in Assam and warns the Assamese people that without ULFA and the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), they would make the local population their slaves.

"Mind you if ULFA or AASU is not there, the Marwaris and Biharis will make the Assamese people slaves," he wrote.

But another opinion in the community strongly refutes this anti-Marwari notion.

"My greatest model in Assamese culture is from the Marwari community - Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla (freedom fighter and litterateur). If there would not have been Marwaris, we would have achieved practically no development at all," the message said.

If ULFA is right or wrong and whether the government and the common masses are treading on the right path will always remain a subject of hot debate, but the crux of the matter lies crystal clear in this anonymous message posted in ULFA.

"Let's construct, not destruct. The land of Gandhi will be ashamed otherwise.

First Published: Jan 08, 2007 09:30 IST