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Kuldeep Moran kidnapping: Ransom isn't Ulfa (I)'s motive and the BJP can't overlook this

United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) releasing the video of Kuldeep Moran, the kidnapped son of a BJP leader, is seen as a warning to the ruling party in Assam. Though the kidnappers, who have identified themselves as Ulfa cadre, have demanded a ransom of Rs one crore from Kuldeep’s father, money is not seen as the sole motive behind the kidnap. The kidnap is being rather seen as a move to deter BJP’s march in North East by the militant group, which is known for it's anti-BJP stance.

"This incident might deter the growth of BJP. Workers might desert the party for security concerns," says Professor Apurbakumar Baruah an expert on northeastern politics. He further added that similar incidents have caused major setbacks in the party when two BJP candidates named Pannalal Oswal and Jayanta Dutta were abducted and killed in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

These two incidents, seen as a failure of the then ruling NDA government to provide security to it’s leaders, were said to have created rift between the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), as both the candidates were known to be Sangh favourites.

The police also suspects political motivation behind the kidnappings.

Representative image of the Assam Police. Reuters

Representative image of the Assam Police. Reuters

"Ratneswar Moran is a leader who is not known for his money. There could be other motivations behind his son’s kidnapping," says a top police official. August has seen a series of desperate subversive activities carried out by Ulfa (I) which came as a surprise to many as the militant group was going through a major setback since a majority of its leadership is engaging itself in peace talks.

The faction of Ulfa led by commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah — which is averse to talks without sovereignty as the core issue — renamed itself the Ulfa (Independent) and stayed back in the dense forests of Myanmar. Subversive activities of the militant group in Brahmaputra valley drastically declined after majority of the Ulfa leaders, who favoured talks came under the government’s fold.

In a rather desperate attempt to make it’s presence felt, the faction on 12 August opened fire at a gathering killing two and injuring more than seven people in Tinsukhia district. On 15 August, it planted five bombs in various places of the district. Kidnapping of Kuldeep Moran was carried out more than ten days before these attacks, but the group claimed it’s responsibility publicly only on Monday.

The recent insurgent activities of the militant group is seen as an attempt by the group to resurge, but GM Srivastava, expert on terrorism in North East, sees it as a security failure. "Security failures of these sorts often happen after elections. Ulfa often takes advantage of security lapses.This is one of that sort. But it cannot be called resurgence of Ulfa. For Paresh Baruah is left with only a few newcomers as cadres,” the former director general of police of Assam says.

BJP has been repeatedly facing threats from Ulfa. The group threatened to attack BJP workers before 2014 general election.The group also threatened to foil Narendra Modi’s public meeting in Assam before the state assembly elections earlier this year. Ulfa(I) issued similar threats against the party before the elections on the ground that the party has remained silent about the outfit's 26 men who had gone missing after "Operation All Clear" was carried out in Bhutan against Ulfa in December 2003. The group also believes that the operation was carried out by Indian Army in Bhutanese soil, instead of the Royal Bhutan Army.

Kidnapping of Kuldeep Moran is Ulfa(I)’s execution of what it had threatened to do. The abduction might be a sign of the group's resurgence or might be just a case of security lapse, but at a time when the BJP is raring to march ahead in North East with much pace than ever before, it is an incident BJP cannot afford to overlook .

This article was amended to correct an error in the surname of Kuldeep and Ratneswar Moran. It was earlier spelled as Maran.   

Updated Date: Aug 23, 2016 16:41 PM

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