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Tall, wheatish, whiskered? Join Ulfa

If the armed forces are to be believed, the militant group is recruiting a different breed of "soldiers", reports Rahul Karmakar.
Hindustan Times | By Rahul Karmakar
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2007 08:26 PM IST

Unconventional, mean-looking hunks may not make it on the ramps. But they can certainly land a job in the ULFA.

If the armed forces are to be believed, the ULFA has been recruiting a different breed of “soldiers”. Those recruited have certain physical attributes — they are tall, wheatish and whiskered — and they allegedly have no qualms about womanising.

According to army officials in eastern Assam, the outlawed ULFA has virtually formed a 'molesters' unit' with cadres who “do not appear local at first glance”. Members of this unit impersonate army and paramilitary troopers, raid villages and sexually harass women to give the security forces a bad name.

“Since the average ULFA cadre looks different from what most soldiers in counter-insurgency operations in these parts do, the outfit has began drafting in tall, wheatish and moustached young men who can easily pass off as the quintessential soldier,” said a Colonel, refusing to be quoted.

The ULFA hunks have also reportedly been perfecting their Hindi to make their “molestation act” more authentic.

The security forces got wind of the ULFA’s “gameplan” after a group of ULFA militants, disguised as soldiers in battle fatigues, allegedly raped two women and molested 11 others at Lezai Baruagaon in Dibrugarh district on July 16. The group, they said, was led by dreaded ULFA militant Baba Dadhora.

“The villagers blamed our boys. So we organized an identification parade of all our personnel in the village the very next day, but the local residents said none of them looked like the ones who molested the women,” said a spokesman at the army’s 4th Corps headquarters.

The blame fell on the CRPF too. “Our men were not assigned any operation in the Lezai Baruagaon area on that day,” said GS Sodhi, commandant of the CRPF’s 165th battalion. The two raped women, nevertheless, lodge an FIR in the local police station.

Rights activists, however, have accused the armed forces of using local women in a psychological warfare against the ULFA. Along with the villagers, they have called a road blockade from Monday.

The Assam Human Rights Commission, meanwhile, have asked the district authorities to submit a report on the July 16 incident.

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