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Grenade Blast in the Guwahati, Assam: Can We Rule Out A Larger Conspiracy?

Udipan writes, analysis of the explosion, notwithstanding its ‘small’ intensity and impact, would be one in which the blast is not seen as an incident isolated from the engagement of larger powers who are looking forward to pursue their agendas in North East India, or even the whole of India. ULFA building ties with non-local organisations that are premised on religious fundamentalism, a conspiracy which is larger than this blast itself cannot be ruled out.

On 15 May 2019, around 8:00 pm, a grenade blast at one of the busiest streets in Guwahati, Assam, injured at least twelve persons. The Paresh Baruah led faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has claimed responsibility of the explosion. The government has jumped into action, putting the city under high alert, and hiking surveillance and security cover.

Even as one condemns the explosion for what it was – an act of violence which was repugnant, to say the least, and whose obvious intent was to threaten and disrupt peace and progress in the very important city of Guwahati, one must also remember that the ULFA has, for a long time now, largely toned down its secessionist agenda and nationalist aspirations, which it had once aimed to achieve through extreme and often violent means. One must understand that while the militant organisation still claims to exist for the protection of the interests of the people of Assam, its real ability to influence legislative and policy decisions vis-à-vis Assam has been substantially reduced, by virtue of its power and ideology having been nearly devastated, thanks to concerted efforts by successive Indian governments at the Centre and the State to deliver the promise of progress for the people of Assam. With the ULFA having been virtually defeated and the Indian state having become politically victorious in the conflict, there has been no noticeable ideological vacuum in the Assamese society, which alludes to the faith and confidence that the people of Assam have immediately reposed in the progressive agency of the Indian state. Civil society organisations of Assam have, today, assumed an active role, and a very significant one, in ensuring that the Assamese voice is heard in New Delhi, in advocating for the interests of the people of Assam in matters of national importance, and in unequivocally calling out government proposals and decisions that disregard their interests. There is practically no role for the ULFA to play in redressing the present concerns and advancing the current aspirations of the people of Assam. Therefore, one would be ignorant if they were to look at the explosion merely as another desperate attempt by the ULFA, weakened as it is today than ever before, to reassert itself.

A well-informed and useful analysis of the explosion, notwithstanding its ‘small’ intensity and impact, would be one in which the blast is not seen as an incident isolated from the engagement of larger powers who are looking forward to pursue their agendas in North East India, or even the whole of India, for that matter. When there is reasonable suspicion regarding the ULFA building ties with non-local organisations that are premised on religious fundamentalism, a conspiracy which is larger than this blast itself cannot be ruled out. An explosion like this one should be perceived as a stimulant to assess the prospects of, and prepare for, unfamiliar circumstances that may lay ahead.

 

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