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Heat on ULFA (I)

While former ULFA militants are now mostly for peace, the faction under Paresh Barua called ULFA (Independent) continues to be aggressive. It has been trying to subvert peace talks and extorting money from two tea estates. Fears have been raised about the possibility of the banned outfit causing havoc during the proposed Global Investors Summit due to be held in Guwahati in February. Counter-insurgency forces led by the Army have begun what they call ‘area domination’ to turn the heat on the rebel group under Paresh Barua. Over the past few weeks, the outfit has been serving extortion notices on the authorities of at least two tea gardens, one of them owned by an MNC, in Tinsukia district. These notices are sent through WhatsApp. Most of Assam’s 850 tea estates dot the upper Assam districts of Tinsukia and Sibsagar and they produce more than half of the total annual output of 600 million kg of tea. The two districts have long borders with Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and are vulnerable to attacks by ULFA (I) militants sheltering in Myanmar.

The ULFA (I) is perhaps on a last ditch offensive as it is facing a severe financial crisis. It is also acutely short of manpower. No wonder the outfit is engaged in the familiar extortion bid ahead of the Global Investors Summit (GIS). The police are trying to prevent any flow of funds to the ULFA (I). The rebels must be disarmed before the Summit as their depredations may adversely affect future investment in Assam from inside the country and abroad.

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