Assam: I Am Not a Secret Killer, Says BJP Candidate Bhaskar Sarma
The Quint in conversation with BJP candidate and a former ULFA member, Bhaskar Sarma.
According to reports, 855 people were shot dead in Assam between 1998 and 2001. Most of those killed were family members, friends, and sympathizers of ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) militants. This happened during the regime of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam with Prafulla Mahanta as its chief minister.
Bhaskar Sarma: The Most Controversial Candidate
Upper Assam was ULFA’s bastion and it is from here that the BJP has given a ticket to Bhaskar Sarma. Sarma was a former ULFA militant who was shot during the crackdown on the ULFA by the Indian Army in 1992. After spending months in hospital and then in jail, he was released on bail. ULFA has always accused Sarma of being involved in the secret killings and this makes him the most controversial candidate in this election. He is fighting the election on a BJP ticket from Margherita, and both the ruling Congress and the ULFA are targeting him.
While the Congress has accused him of secret killings, the ULFA has warned people to stay away from Sarma, hinting that the group may target him. Speaking exclusively to The Quint, Sarma said that the Saikia enquiry commission set up by Congress to investigate the secret killings didn’t name him in it. Sarma challenged Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to prove that he was behind the secret killings.
Though he agrees that he was associated with the ULFA, he says that he never picked up the gun. He was like a volunteer who was spreading ULFA’s message and recruiting people for them.
I’m a reformed man now and want to work for the people of Margherita. ULFA was a phase of my life when I was very young but now I’m mature and experienced and wish to serve Assam through democratic means.
ULFA Threat to the BJP Candidate
Just a few days before the Assam election, the Intelligence Bureau issued an alert on the proscribed ULFA threat against Sarma.
According to the sources, the threat was issued against him contesting the upcoming election. ULFA also alleges that Sharma, who was member, was involved in secret killings of their members with the help of state. But again, the agency doesn’t rule out the possibility that this could be just a diversionary tactic of the ULFA, wherein the real targets could actually be security personnel.
“Based on the information that we have received, we have beefed up the security of Bhaskar Sharma,” said Senior Official, Ministry of Home Affairs.
(With inputs from Poonam Agarwal)
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