Rangia (Assam), Sept 5 : The United Liberation Front of Asom or ULFA is in trouble. After the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by its 28th battalion, 39 cadres of its 709 battalion recently surrendered before the Red Horn Division of the Indian Army in Assam's Kamrup District delivering a major blow to the militant outfit.
The surrender reflects not only the disenchantment among the lower rung cadres with the central committee, but also disillusionment with ULFA ideology. Deelip Kumar Rai, a surrendered ULFA cadre said, "The policy of the ULFA leaders as well as their demands won't be acceptable to the government. The government has asked them to leave their demand for sovereignty and come to the negotiation table, but they are not coming." Mohamad Islam, another surrendered ULFA cadre found it difficult to work with the ULFA.
He said, "It has become very difficult. Now we don't have much strength left to work with the ULFA. The pressure of people has developed everywhere. Now we are getting opportunity to lead our life. That's why I decided to surrender." Noni Gopal Mohanta, an ULFA expert, believes that there is a growing sense of disillusionment among the cadres.
"There is a disillusionment among the cadres, who have realised that the dreams that were woven before them is no longer possible. In such circumstances, the surrendering of the cadres is inevitable," Mohanta says.
While discussing the recruitment of children into the ULFA, Mohanta said, "The issue of recruitment of teenagers by ULFA or other militant groups can't be seen in isolation.irstly, in a state like Assam the dropout rate in the secondary school and at the college level is very high. And secondly, the economic condition of these students, who are not going to the school, is pathetic. Such situation provides ready made cadres, who can be easily convinced to join the ULFA by giving few rupees or some kind of material benefit to the youths." ULFA was established in 1979, and even after a period of nearly 30 years it has not been able to convert its cadres to its cause. The recent declaration of unilateral ceasefire proves this. Facing a major shortage of cadres, the ULFA has started recruiting Bangladeshis and children below the age of 17.
The ULFA claims that it represents the interests of the Assamese people. However, it has been preying on the people and has become their predator. And, since the time of its inception, it has been directly targeting local residents. The question arising in most people's mind is whether the ULFA's days are numbered? By Peter Alex Todd