ULFA hiring drug addicts, students as bombers

Guwahati, September 8:

In a disturbing development, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has adopted a new modus operandi in its terror strikes — hiring students and drug addicts to carry out explosions.

The fact came to light earlier this week when police arrested 21-year-old drug addict Kamaleshwar Das, who has confessed to planting a bomb fitted to a van on September 1 at the crowded Bamunimaidan market in the western Assam town of Nalwari. The explosion killed one person and wounded 25.

“I did it for money. I now regret having done such a thing,” Das said while being produced in a local court here. He had bought the van about a fortnight ago in Nalbari and drove the vehicle down to Guwahati before assembling the explosive and parking it in Bamunimaidan.

The entire mission was funded by the ULFA with Das being paid Rs 8,000 for committing the crime. Police said this was Das’s third assignment to plant bombs in the city at the behest of ULFA. “Das is among youths who come from poor families and are being targeted by the ULFA to plant explosives and carry out such attacks by luring them with money,” Rajen Singh, additional police chief of Guwahati, said.

“Youths like Das are ready to do anything for money and the ULFA capitalises on such vulnerable boys and girls.” In parts of eastern Assam, the ULFA has managed to hire several young students for carrying out subversive attacks.

“This is a fact. The ULFA has of late been hiring students to trigger blasts,” said an army commander. Police arrested three students from different parts of the district earlier this year on specific charges of colluding with the ULFA.

“These students are used by the ULFA to carry out grenade attacks and other explosions in public places in return for money and things like mobile telephones, cars and motorbikes,” the commander said. A study by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a New Delhi-based think tank, said Assam has surpassed Jammu and Kashmir in terms of civilian casualties in terror strikes this year.

Of the 604 civilian casualties in terror attacks across India between January 1 and August 3 this year, 168 were from Assam, followed by 124 from Jammu and Kashmir.