Not long ago, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was worried that young people of his state were joining the banned organisation, the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I), and now Youth Congress leader Janardhan Gogoi from District Tinsukia has joined the separatist, terrorist organisation.
The 29-year-old vice-president of the youth wing of the INC at Sadiya in Upper Assam wrote in a Facebook post addressed to his wife, Reema, that he was “leaving” because he could not bear to see the Assamese community being “systematically destroyed”.
“From the preliminary reports that we have received, it appears that he has joined the ULFA-I,” Sadiya SP Pushkin Jain said. The SP said that Gogoi “does not explicitly mention” that he has joined the ULFA-I in his Facebook post. “However, from whatever information we have with us, it appears that he is sympathetic to the outfit,” he said.
In his Facebook post, Gogoi said he wanted to “save the Assamese community”.
“I am well aware of the true character of political parties and organisations in Assam — our people are helpless in their own land. I cannot sit doing nothing while our community and culture are being destroyed in this manner,” he wrote yesterday.
Jain said the matter was under investigation, adding that the police were examining the background of the Youth Congress leader.
Today, a 30-year-old from neighbouring Sivasagar was detained in connection with the case. “We are currently interrogating him – it is suspected that he was the linkman,” the police said.
The police say that the Youth Congress leader’s family was not aware of any previous allegiance he had to ULFA-I.
An INC office-bearer who has worked with Gogoi said his writings on social media often reflected his concern for the larger Assamese community. “We cannot say for sure why he decided to take the step, but it was clear that he felt strongly about the Assamese jati, identity, and his community… He was a good writer too,” he said.
Gogoi, whose parents are teachers, used to work in the social media department of Assam Congress. “He did good work and was also felicitated by the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee. In 2019, he was made an office-bearer,” the INC office-bearer said, adding that Gogoi had a young son and that the couple were expecting another child.
The INC office-bearer said that it was not uncommon for “disillusioned” youths , especially those from districts such as Tinsukia, to gravitate towards ULFA-I. “Lack of employment and rehabilitation is a factor,” he said.
Since 2021, the chief minister has been appealing to the ULFA-I chief, Paresh Baruah, to shun violence and come to the table for talks. In May, the group declared a unilateral ceasefire for three months, and has extended it twice since.
On 15 April, the chief minister had said that while there were efforts to bring the outfit to the dialogue table, the recruitment of new cadres was a cause of concern.
Last month, INC MP Gaurav Gogoi raised the issue of youths joining the militant outfit. “We need to look into why youths are joining the outfit…The main reason is unemployment,” he said during the parliament’s Zero Hour, while asking central intelligence agencies to visit the state and take stock of the situation.