January 6, 2007Security

In return for safe passage

ULFA greets an unprecedented conciliatory move with yet more terrorist attacks

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Late last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made an unprecedented offer to the ULFA leadership based in Bangladesh. Safe passage” to New Delhi to engage in negotiations. From a non-cynical point of view, this suggests that the Indian government believes that it has sufficiently weakened ULFAs organisational capabilities to warrant entering the endgame: a negotiated settlement of some sort.

If this were indeed the case, then massacre of 32 48 people in two days by ULFA operatives should give it pause for thought. The leaders it intends to negotiate with may not have the power to prevent its rank and file from continuing with the slaughter. Indeed, judging from ULFAs dogged refusal to engage in negotiations and compromise suggests that its leaders may be unwilling to do so for fear of their bluff being publicly called. The massacre then is an attempt by renegade ULFA (anyone notice a recursion?) to throw a spanner in that safe passage and negotiations business. Pakistan, which is one of ULFAs benefactors, is unlikely to desire normalcy in India’s north east. [Related link]

What does this imply for counter-terrorism? Well, that the fight may have to go on much longer. The army itself may have to remain on counter-terrorism duties until ULFA is reduced to mere armed gangs. Following this paramilitary forces and police task forces will have to take the fight to individual operatives while preventing the gangs from regrouping.

But this is by no means the worst, or the most likely case. The worst case is that ULFAs leadership structure is intact and in control, and has counted on the Congress/UPA’s softness on internal security to up the ante.

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