‘Missing’ AASU leader joins ULFA-I, video goes viral

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‘We need Assam’s sovereignty to protect its existence,’ says Pankaj

HT Correspondent

GOLAGHAT, Oct 24: Sensation prevails across Assam following the report of a student leader joining Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Asom –Independent (ULFA-I) to protect and secure a sovereign Assam.

Pankaj Pratim Dutta’s joining the outfit comes amidst statewide protests against the Citizenship Bill. It seeks to grant citizenship to the persecuted non-Muslim immigrants of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who migrated to India till December 31, 2014.

Dutta, vice president of Dergaoan unit of AASU joined the ULFA-I a month after he had gone missing on September 5 while on a trip to Guwahati.

Dutta, who hails from Dergaon in Golaghat district, is the son the Tarun Chandra Dutta, a resident of Ward No 9 of Dergaon.

Dutta’s joining the ULFA-I was known after he had shared a video of him on social media holding a gun and narrating the reasons why he joined the rebel outfit.

“I have joined the ULFA-I on my own volition. I apologise to AASU members in Dergaon for taking this decision without informing them. I firmly believe that to be able to protect the existence of Assam, there is no other alternative. We need Assam’s sovereignty to protect its existence. That’s the reason I joined the ULFA-I. We, the Assamese people, were once warriors but now, we are forced to stoop to India government even for petty issues,” Dutta said in the video.

Dutta asked India government not to belittle the handful of ULFA guerillas saying they were troubling the Indian Army and they would keep doing so.

This is the first instance of a member of AASU joining an insurgent group in the past 15 years.

“There have been numerous such cases in the past. However, in the past 15 years or so, no one from AASU, except him, joined the ULFA,” AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath told reporters here.

In the video clip, Dutta claimed that he has joined the ULFA-I as a representative of the new generation to fight for an independent Assam. “As a representative of the new generation, I believe there is no alternative to an independent and sovereign Assam,” Dutta said in the video clip.

“I would like to remind those who believe that the ULFA-I is just a handful. But it is because of the sacrifices made by this handful of revolutionaries that every Assamese is taking pride in their ethnic identity today,” he said.

Commenting on the incident, Golaghat superintendent of police Manvendra Dev Roy said, “Pankaj has been missing since one and half month. An FIR was also lodged in Dergaon Police Station by the family members. We were conducting search for him. But today he admitted that he has joined the ULFA-I.”

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