After chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma The first encounter with the banned rebel group, United Liberation Front of Assam- Independent (ULFA-I), after chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took charge happened on Friday. In an operation by the army at Dapathar village in Kakapather of Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district bordering Arunachal Pradesh, one ULFA-I cadre was killed on the spot.
The deceased was identified as Gyan Asom alias Santosh Gogoi. Five cadres of the outfit managed to flee. The development comes close on the heels as Assam police alerted Oil India Limited (OIL) about recent intelligence inputs on ULFA(I)’s alleged plan to target their installations and abduct officials.
Tinsukia district superintendent of police Sebajit Deuri said, “We received and reacted to specific inputs on a group of six ULFA(I) cadres led by Rupom Asom taking shelter in a house under Kakopathar police station limits. Local army launched the operation against the insurgent group and the insurgent used grenade and rocket-propelled grenade.”
Deuri added: “In retaliatory fire, two cadres sustained bullet injuries as they tried to flee towards the path from the backyard of the house. One ULFA(I) cadre’s dead body was recovered in the paddy field and it was identified as Gyan Asom. A bag containing suspected IED has been recovered from the house where they were hiding. Our search operation with the army is on.”
Sources said the army team came under heavy gunfire as soon as they approached the house, and were also attacked with two grenades. “In retaliatory fire, two cadres sustained bullet injuries as they tried to flee towards the path from the backyard of the house.”
A security source said, “The operation area has been widened to cover a radius of almost 5 km. We have cordoned off almost half a dozen villages, including Pani Gaon, Ahom Gaon and Henglijan Gaon among others.”
Paresh Baruah-led ULFA(I) had announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months on May 15 last year due to Covid-19 pandemic and, later, the rebel group extended the ceasefire twice for three months each.
Baruah announced the unilateral ceasefire for the first time after Sarma took over as Assam CM.
“No other chief minister has shown this kind of genuine interest to resolve the issue. He has been able to assure the people of Assam that a solution may be possible and so we are also hopeful. In an armed struggle, operations and negotiations continue simultaneously. We are not opposed to dialogue and our doors for talks are always open,” Baruah had said.
He had also said: “In the last 40 years, several accords have been signed — Shillong Accord, Mizo Accord — but there was nothing new in those peace agreements. The Centre should move away from these accords and if they want a permanent remedy, must find a new way by understanding the whole issue in the right perspective or else many other organisations will raise their head.”
CM SARMA ON ULFA(I)
Sarma on January 1 had said while the ULFA(I) remained the “last hurdle” in achieving peace in Assam, efforts with the outfit in the last eight months marked the “beginning of the end”.
“The era of tribal insurgency is over. All militant groups have come forward… our last hurdle is the ULFA(I),” Sarma had said while addressing a press conference on New Year.
He said the only “stumbling block” was the outfit’s demand for sovereignty. “But in the last eight months, we have both (government and ULFA-I) taken steps. It is a difficult and complicated situation but I dare to say, the beginning of the end has been seen,” the CM said.
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