Thursday, January 7, 2010

Threat to Intellectuals

There is this interesting e-mail by ULFA ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah, carried by newspapers yesterday, that threatens anti-ULFA intellectuals of warning and subsequent action if they continue to support ‘colonial’ India’s cause. The e-mail also informs us of the new directives that the cadres of the outfit must now abide by, such as selection of security forces and symbols of the government as targets, and not innocent people, and punishment to corrupt government officials, those guilty of maligning the State’s education scenario, Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists, poachers, drug peddlers and those involved in the trafficking of women. Since Bangladesh has cracked down on the ULFA’s safe haven in that country and forced Baruah to look for greener pastures elsewhere, his e-mail also talks of action against Bangladeshis settled in Assam — the ire against Bangladesh and Bangladeshis is only too natural, as well as strategic. However, what is sinister and downright condemnable is the open threat to intellectuals opposed to the outfit’s demand for sovereignty outside of the Indian Constitution and its brand of violence. Baruah is actually saying this: ‘‘You intellectuals, you either support us in everything we do or just keep mum. If you say anything against us, you must as well know what we can do — simply eliminate you.’’ What Baruah has forgotten is that just as he would encourage intellectuals who support the ULFA’s sovereignty agenda, the intellectuals who are against the outfit too have every right to be encouraged in a democracy as ours. Why the fear of intellectualism? Why the fear of a free society? What is Baruah’s idea of freedom? Assume this too: Baruah succeeds in freeing Assam from India, but in that independent Assam some have risen in rebellion against the Baruah regime. So how would Baruah deal with them? After all, what the ULFA c-in-c detests the most is the view that counters his theory. He just cannot tolerate it. THE SENTINEL

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