ULFA Chief’s house attacked

New Delhi, May 6, 2003,11pm IST:
This morning’s attack on the house of the secessionist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) ‘commander in chief’ Paresh Baruah in Assam has drawn a measured response from their former comrades in arms, the surrendered ULFA militants (SULFA). More than 18 hours after the attack, the government, however, was tight-lipped on the issue, with Minister of State for Home Raqibul Hussain refusing to comment when contacted. No organisation had claimed responsibility for the attack till the filing of this report. The case has meanwhile been handed to over to the CID, said Khagen Sarma, IG (Special Branch). The attackers, though, had not been identified till the filing of this report.
“That the ULFA has not launched a retaliatory attack proves their maturity,” said Sunil Nath, alias Siddartha Phukan, journalist and former publicity secretary of the banned organisation, who came overground some years ago. Such attacks-the finger of suspicion is invariably pointed at the SULFA in such cases-have in the past drawn retaliatory strikes by the ULFA, costing scores of lives in the state, and is considered to be one of the main reasons of the downfall of the Prafulla Mahanta government in May 2001.
Today’s attack on Baruah’s house in Jerai village near Chabua, a few kilometres from Dibrugarh in upper Assam, was carried out in vintage (S)ULFA style, with AK-47s from a Maruti van, but was warded off by the Home Guard personnel on duty at Baruah’s house. Baruah’s father, a freedom fighter and recipient of a tamra patra from the government, has, incidentally, appealed a number of times to his son to return to the mainstream. Paresh Baruah’s brother Ramesh fell victim to militancy related violence a few years back.

Paresh Baruah, viewed as the most intransigent of the banned organisation’s leaders, is believed to be the main stumbling block in the way of possible negotiations between the ultras and the government. It may be mentioned that Baruah had personally claimed responsibility for a series of blasts that left more than 10 people dead in the state recently.

By Kuntil Baruwa (newsfiledelhi@hotmail.com)