The state of Assam has been under the grip of insurgency for more than three decades. Located in the strategic northeastern corner of India, it is part of a region which shares a highly porous and sensitive frontier with China in the North, Myanmar in the East, Bangladesh in the Southwest and Bhutan to the Northwest.
Insurgency began in Assam with the birth of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in 1979. On 7 April 1979, six radical Assamese youths met at the Rang Ghar, the famous amphitheatre of the Ahom royalty (the Ahoms ruled Assam for 600 years, beginning 1228 AD) and formed the ULFA, vowing to fight against the colonial Indian Government with the ultimate aim to achieve a sovereign, socialist Assam. At the meeting at Rang Ghar in Sivasagar district of Assam, the youths agreed that the Indian state has been exploiting Assam‘s rich tea, oil and forest resources without benefiting the people of Assam. This was the starting point of ULFA insurgency, or we can say, insurgency in Assam.
The late 80s witnessed ULFA‘s influence in Assam reaching new heights. Rebels of the outfit killed, kidnapped and threatened tea planters and businessmen in the State to procure funds to purchase weapons and to send its cadres for advanced training in Myanmar, Afghanistan and other places. A reign of terror prevailed as ULFA assassinated and threatened businessmen and industrialists across the State. In 1990, the governance in Assam4 broke down which led to declaration of President‘s rule in the State with a subsequent ban on the ULFA by the Government of India. Two army operations: Operation Bajrang (between 27 November 1990 and 10 June 1991) and Operation Rhino (between 15 September 1991 and 13 January 1992) against the outfit forced its leadership to take refuge in Bangladesh. ULFA also had camps in Bhutan, but in December 2003, a Bhutanese military operation flushed them out of the Himalayan nation.
The outfit continued to launch periodic strikes in Assam, mostly from its facilities in the Sagaing division in Myanmar. In 2009, there were reports of the ULFA setting up a base in China‘s Yunnan province, established by the group‘s military chief Paresh Baruah. In NovemberDecember 2009, all the top leaders of ULFA were arrested except Paresh Baruah. As of now, though the outfit is engaged in talks with the government, a breakaway faction of the group led by Paresh Baruah (known as ULFA-Independent) is still continuing its war against the State.