Days earlier than the Prafulla Kumar Mahanta authorities was dismissed in 1990 and the Indian Military launched Operation Bajrang in opposition to the secessionist United Liberation Entrance of Asom (ULFA), three of its senior functionaries met a British diplomat in Dhaka and sought the UK’s assist to additional its trigger.
Newly declassified paperwork launched by Nationwide Archives present that whereas the banned outfit was attacking British industrial pursuits within the tea gardens in Assam, it was in search of the UK’s assist on the political stage and providing the British diplomat a tour of its camps in Assam.
In 1990 – when Assam was gripped by stress and concern – the then Mahanta-led Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) was a constituent of the Nationwide Entrance (NF) authorities led by V P Singh. However the AGP authorities was dismissed on November 27 after the NF authorities fell and Chandra Shekhar shaped his minority authorities.
On October 2, the three functionaries – normal secretary Anup Chetia (actual title Golap Barua), publicity secretary Sidhartha Phukan (actual title Sunil Nath) and Iqbal – met the diplomat, David Austin, who reported the assembly to London in a be aware described as “fascinating”. Chetia and Phukan have been a part of the highest management of the outfit.
Austin wrote within the be aware to the London headquarters on October four that the ULFA’s “inspiration is the State of Israel. If Israel can survive surrounded by the hostile Arab world, then why not Assam surrounded by hostile Indian forces?”
He was proven pictures, together with these of a coaching camp within the Lakhimpur district of Assam, and among the outfit’s leaflets. The pictures included one among its commanders-in-chief, Paresh Barua, standing on the China border with a Chinese language military liaison officer.
“The three males requested for assist/recommendation in 4 separate areas: UK help in publicising the ULFA’s actions and goals; recommendation on whether or not the ULFA would be capable of arrange an workplace within the UK; an introduction to different Western diplomatic missions in Dhaka; and methods to get involved with authorities in Israel who could possibly assist them,” Austin wrote.
He added that the ULFA’s propaganda effort was a “new one” and that they have been in a position to “method international diplomatic missions in Bangladesh with out the potential of RAW intervening – one thing it’s unable to do in New Delhi”.
Austin, nonetheless, declined the provide to go to the camps.
On November 5, diplomat D D W Martin on the British excessive fee in New Delhi described Austin’s be aware as “fascinating”, and wrote to the international workplace, “They’ve clearly now determined to focus on western diplomats.”
“That they need to achieve this tends to corroborate the periodic press allegations that the ULFA can function with impunity in Bangladesh, even perhaps with the tacit complicity of the authorities,” he added.
In keeping with Martin, the China hyperlink talked about in Austin’s be aware was “new and attention-grabbing”.
He wrote, “I’ve solely heard it talked about earlier than by a Congress-I MLA in Assam, who alleged that the Indian Intelligence Companies knew all concerning the Chinese language involvement, however have been conserving quiet for concern of damaging the method of rapprochement between India and China.”
“Throughout their assembly with David Austin, the ULFA have been understandably silent about their actions in opposition to the tea firms in Assam. But it surely appears extraordinary that the organisation ought to make an method to us on the political stage, whereas on the similar time, threatening our industrial pursuits in Assam,” Martin added.
The diplomatic letters have been despatched to London at a time when the ULFA’s actions had unfold a lot concern in Assam, dominating public discourse. On Austin, in search of recommendation on whether or not he ought to maintain additional conferences with the ULFA functionaries, Martin wrote that no such conferences must be held.
Martin wrote, “The ULFA is a militant organisation pursuing violent means to subvert the established order in Assam. By pressurising tea firms, it additionally threatens British pursuits. Contacts with the ULFA would due to this fact be onerous to clarify to the Authorities of India.”
Within the late 1980s and 1990, because the publicity secretary, Phukan had arrange what Martin known as a “subtle PR machine”, which was then centered on the Indian press, with journalists granted unique interviews with ULFA leaders.
The journalists, he added, have been “taken to spectacular press conferences within the bush and uncovered to quite a lot of roughly spectacular stunts designed to indicate off ULFA as a formidable preventing unit”.
Since 1990, there have been a number of ULFA-related developments, together with the military’s Operation Rhino, give up by a number of of its leaders and functionaries, suspension of operations, and talks with New Delhi by a piece of the outfit that has come over-ground.
Since one other part continues with the ULFA’s secessionist goals and subversive actions, the ministry of residence affairs in November 2019 prolonged till 2024 the ban first imposed on the outfit in 1990 beneath the Illegal Actions (Prevention) Act, 1967.
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