ULFA-I's Ultimatum to Bengalis in Assam's Barak Valley Sparks Tensions

News Reporter News Reporter
Tuesday, October 17, 2023
ULFA-I's Ultimatum to Bengalis in Assam's Barak Valley Sparks Tensions
Militant Group ULFA-I Issues 60-Day Deadline for Bengalis in Barak Valley
Silchar, Assam - October 17, 2023: In a recent development, the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) has issued a 60-day ultimatum to the Bengali-speaking population residing in Assam's Barak Valley, demanding that they clarify their stance on separation from Assam. The militant group has warned that failure to comply will result in severe consequences for all Bengali-speaking people in the state.

ULFA-I's statement, which rapidly gained traction on social media, called on the Bengali-speaking residents of Barak Valley to respond to the separation demand made by Pradip Dutta Roy, the leader of the Barak Democratic Front, within the next two months. The group stated, "If they don't do this, the Bengalis living in Brahmaputra Valley will face the consequences."

In a strongly worded response, ULFA-I claimed that Bengalis are not indigenous to this region of Assam, which was historically ruled by Kachari kings. They accused individuals like Dutta Roy of migrating to the area and now laying claim to the land, a move they vehemently condemn.

Furthermore, ULFA-I alleged that certain groups, including Dutta Roy, are conspiring to create a new state by separating Barak Valley from Assam. They also accused an "enemy India" of supporting such efforts in the name of democracy.

Pradip Dutta Roy, the proponent of Barak Valley's separation, downplayed ULFA-I's threats, stating that he doesn't take them seriously. He explained, "This is not the first time I am receiving such letters; I don't even consider this a warning." He also claimed that ULFA-I specifically targets Hindu Bengalis, alleging that its members hide in Bangladesh under Muslim aliases and avoid targeting Muslims in Assam for this reason.

Dutta Roy defended his stance on Barak Valley's separation, citing historical disparities and deprivation faced by the Bengali-speaking population. He expressed his belief that the majority in Assam would not allow them to grow equally. However, he emphasized that Barak Valley wouldn't be the first region to secede from Assam.

Assam's Director General of Police, Gyanendra Pratap Singh, issued a stern warning against any attempt to disrupt the state's harmony. He stated, "Any attempt by any individual, group, or organization shall be dealt with strictly in accordance with the law of the land."

Barak Valley, which encompasses the districts of Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi, has a predominantly Bengali-speaking population, both Hindus and Muslims. Out of 126 Assembly seats in Assam, 13 are held by this region, which was 15 prior to the recent delimitation exercise.

Assam's Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, during his visit to Barak Valley, indicated that he would not oppose separation if it was the unanimous demand of the region's residents. He clarified that the state government would only consider such a move if it came from the entire citizenry and not just from select "leftist" groups.

Cabinet Minister Pijush Hazarika, in a recent visit to Silchar, urged those in Barak Valley who do not support the demand for separation to make their stance clear, emphasizing the need for open and transparent discussions on this sensitive issue.