The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AASU turns migrant gun on Ulfa

Guwahati, Aug. 22: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) today came out all guns blazing against the Ulfa, saying the outfit’s commander-in-chief Pa-resh Barua was afraid of speaking out on illegal migration to the state from Bangladesh “for fear of losing Dhaka’s patronage”.

The AASU’s hard-hitting statement against the militant outfit came on the crest of a massive anti-Ulfa wave across the state following the Independence Day blast at Dhemaji that left 13 people, including five children, dead. The 40 injured include several children.

The Ulfa was formed in the year when the AASU launched its anti-foreigner movement in 1979. The students’ union often faced allegations of having a “soft corner” for the outfit.

However, the tone of the students’ union today indicated a marked change in its stand against the outfit.

“The Ulfa claims to be fighting for Assam and the Assamese people. Then, why is it silent on this crucial issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh' It is very simple, Paresh Barua is afraid of losing Dhaka’s patronage,” AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said at a news conference here.

Its president Prabin Boro and general secretary Amiyo Bhuyan also addressed the media conference, the second by the AASU since the Dhemaji killings on August 15.

Training his guns against the Ulfa chief, Bhattacharyya said: “Paresh Barua has no remorse in targeting innocent children, but he dare not speak out against illegal migrants from the neighbouring country flooding the state.”

When the state was facing the grave crisis of being swamped by Bangladeshis, the Ulfa leadership has to clear its stand on the issue “to prove their concern for Assam and the Assamese”, he added.

Terming the Dhemaji killings as barbaric and inhuman, the AASU leader warned that the student community would not remain a mute spectator to violence perpetrated by militants.

“What the Ulfa is doing now is plain terrorism,” AASU president Boro said. “But we will not remain spectators to these acts. We are building up public opinion against militancy and will intensify our efforts. The Ulfa will find itself completely alienated from the people.”

He said the most shocking part was that the Ulfa tried to “defend its brutal act instead of admitting its guilt. It shows how low they have stooped”.

Soon after the blast, Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa expressed grief over the death of children, but blamed Dispur for “using children as shields and tools to meet its selfish goals”.

Referring to the Ulfa’s criticism of the AASU over the Nellie killings during the height of the anti-foreigner movement, Bhuyan said: “The agitation was a non-violent one and Nellie was an unfortunate incident. But unlike the Ulfa’s killings, the AASU did not instigate or participate in violence.”

The country witnessed the worst communal pogrom since Partition when over 2,000 people were butchered in a single day at Nellie, a sleepy hamlet in undivided Nagaon district in February 1983.

The AASU also blasted the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in the state of “harbouring lakhs of Bangladeshi migrants for narrow political gains”.

Bhuyan said chief minister Gogoi suppressed the migrants’ issue after Delhi itself admitted that there are 50 lakh Bangladeshis in Assam.

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