Assam’s teenage female kickboxer abandons study, career dreams to join ULFA as militant group spreads its tentacles in state

In a shocking development, a female kickboxer, who is also a student of class X, joined the Paresh Baruah-led faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA) in Tinsukia district of Assam in May this year just a few days before her tournament in Nepal, said police.

This incident comes to fore days after suspected ULFA militants allegedly gunned down five Bengali speaking people in the same district of the state.

Mugdha Jyoti Dev Mahanta, superintendent of police, Tinsukia, said, “It is confirmed that the student has joined the ULFA on 3 May, 2018."

File image of Ulfa chief Paresh Baruah.

File image of ULFA chief Paresh Baruah.

The young recruit has been identified as Karishma Mech hailing from Phaneng village coming under the Lekhapani police station limits of Tinsukia district. She went missing from her house on 1 May. The 19 year-old girl is a kick-boxing player and was supposed to go to Kathmandu to take part in a tournament on 13 May.

Her mother, a daily wage labourer, has confirmed that she met three ULFA cadres in her neighbourhood a day before the kickboxer went missing.

“I have seen her talking to three ULFA cadres in Babu Basumatary’s house a day before she went missing. The cadres were asking about her studies and also about kick-boxing” said Manju Mech, mother of Karishama. Her father died when she was only six years old.

“I want her to come back soon and I will pay for her entire studies. She was very good in studies. I used to fulfil all her demands. I never thought she would take such a dangerous step,” she added.

A day before the student went missing, she had asked her mother some money to buy her kick-boxing gears.

"She had bought a big and the next day and when I had gone for work, she left the home,” said Manju.

The woman further said, "When she told me that she was interested in learning kick-boxing, I first tried to dissuade her and asked to concentrate on studies. But she was firm on her decision to learn kickboxing as she wanted to join the police.”

Claiming that youths of the district are easy preys for the ULFA's recruitment drive, Mahanta said, "It is very easy for the ULFA to target the youths from Tinsukia as they are camping quite near. They are at 34 kilometres of aerial distance and 7 hours on foot. The Arakan and Everest camps are quite nearer to Tinsukia and Arunachal Pradesh.”

For the past few months, intelligence reports have been revealing that a group of youths is joining the ULFA cadre from the Phaneng and Chandrapur villages.

Police also suspects that another youth identified as Chandra Buragohain, who hails from the same village, has joined the banned outfit two months ago.

“Chadra Buragohain has been avoiding police arrest for the past few months. He had two non-bailabe arrest warrants against him. In April, he went into hiding. We suspect that he might have joined the ULFA, but it is yet to be confirmed," said Mahanta.

Notably, a few days ago Assam police had revealed that as many as eight youths from Udalguri and Tinsukia districts joined the ULFA cadre since 1 September this year.

Pallav Bhattacharyya, director general of police (special branch), said, “The case (recruitment of ULFA) has been carefully observed by the director general of police (Kula Saikia.)”

Assam police had earlier stated that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2015 had given the momentum to the activities of ULFA (Independent) as the group has been opposing the drive of the Union government to grant citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh.

The outfit, last month had triggered a blast in Guwahati and claimed that it was a mark of protest against the controversial Bill.

Bikash Moran, a senior scribe from the district, has claimed that many locally grown outfit from the Moran community had taken training from the ULFA in Myanmar but later escaped the camps as Paresh Baruah forced them to merge the new outfit with his faction.

“Two years ago, one man identified as Bhaskar Bora had allegedly recruited 40 youths to launch an outfit called National Revolutionary Council of Moranland to demand a separate state for the Moran community in the state. They had contacted the ULFA and had undergone training in the camps in Myanmar. But later Baruah had asked them to join his group. As a result, many of the youths came back but over 20 of them decided to join the Baruah faction,” he claimed.

The Tinsukia SP, while confirming that Bhaskar had joined the ULFA, said, “He had recruited lots of people to his outfit from Tinsukia district and underwent training in the ULFA camps in Myanmar. While most of them returned following a rift with ULFA, some of them stayed back. Meanwhile the ULFA ousted Bhaskar from the organisation”.

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Updated Date: Nov 14, 2018 17:28:53 IST

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