Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mole in the ministry


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The outlawed ULFA has claimed that the Assam Health Minister, Himanta Biswas Sarma was a member of the rebel outfit before he betrayed the group’s cause to align with forces of what it called colonial India. While denying the claim, Sarma wondered why the outfit took more than 15 years to expose his alleged rebel links. He said that the claim had been made by ULFA’s anti-talks commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and thought that the latter and his followers had lost their mental balance. The ULFA claim had been made a day after Sarma ridiculed its brand of revolution. The Barua faction had threatened to target non-locals if the government did not put an end to counter-insurgency operations. Sarma made light of the strategy of planting bombs under rickshaws and in railway tracks. The ULFA reply came in the form of an e-mail from its publicity secretary, Arunodoy Dahotia. Sarma and his government were accused of being subservient to the Centre unlike West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The ULFA has trained its guns on Sarma on the basis of two Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) cases registered against him in 1991. He was alleged to have extorted money on behalf of the ULFA.

The curious development creates considerable confusion. It cannot be said that the ULFA attack on the Health Minister is baseless. The charges against Sarma are being investigated by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. One wonders why Sarma was inducted in the Ministry in the first place and then allowed to be in office in spite of the allegations. Furthermore, Paresh Barua emerges as the ULFA leader. What has happened to Arabinda Rajkhawa and other pro-peace talks leaders. Finally, it is not conceivable that Mamata Banerjee will appreciate the compliment from Assam rebels.


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