By Utpal Borpujari
The mystery behind exactly how social worker Sanjoy Ghose was killed by the banned ULFA in Assam has been lifted, after nearly 12 years of his ‘disapperance’ in the Majuli river island on the Brahmaputra.
Senior ULFA leader Mrinal Hazarika, now overground with his followers after differences with top ULFA leaders Paresh Barua and Arabinda Rajkhowa, has lifted the veil of mystery behind the incident.
Ghose, he said, had been killed a day after he was abducted by ULFA cadres on July four, 1997, and his body, which was never found, was thrown into the swirling waters of the Brahmaputra. The killing, he claims, was carried out by local cadre even before the top leadership could convey to them the message not to harm him to avoid possible international repercussions.
Hazarika is the leader of the ULFA’s dreaded 28th Battalion, which carried out its operations in Upper Assam – where Majuli is located – till coming overground last year to campaign for peace talks. He is currently in Delhi with his associates, senior ULFA pro-talk group leaders Prabal Neog and Jiten Dutta, to take forward his campaign among the Assamese community in the capital.
“He was shot and thrown into the Brahmaputra by the cadres of the Subansiri Anchalik Parishad of the ULFA comprising the Lakhimpur and Dhemaji district units. The killing happened without the knowledge of the top leadership. In fact, Rajkhowa, who was at Geneva for a UN convention at that time, had sent message to the local cadres not to harm him, but the killing was carried out before it could reach them,” Hazarika said.
Hazarika claimed that ULFA had abducted Ghose, general secretary of an NGO called the Association of Voluntary Agencies for Rural Development (North-East), as he had been carrying out a campaign against the organisation among the people of Majuli where he had arrived a year before to do social work.
But there had been reports that a combination of local contractors, politicians and ULFA had hatched the plan to bump him off as their interests were being affected due to Ghose’s social awareness campaigns.
Even as the issue of Ghose’s abduction had caused a sensation even at the UN, where his aunt Arundhati Ghose was India’s permanent representative at that point of time, the ULFA had given conflicting statements regarding his status.
It had first said that he had died falling off a cliff in Arunachal Pradesh and then that he had fallen into the waters of the Brahmaputra while being ferried from one place to another.