The ULFA was founded on April 7, 1979 to fight for an independent Assam.
Its members underwent training in the camps of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang in Myanmar to launch an armed struggle in 1990.
Military operations and crackdown by the government broke the backbone of the outlawed outfit by 2005.
The group suffered a setback when its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and a few other top leaders were arrested in 2009 and some others surrendered.
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The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) has released a hostage, days after his family “worshipped its chief Paresh Baruah as God.”
The ULFA-I had taken Dinanath Upadhyay, employee of a small tea garden at Phaneng in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district, hostage on June 8. The outfit demanded ₹3.5 crore from the estate’s owner Radha Chetia for his release.
On Monday evening, unknown men handed Mr. Upadhyay over to the chief of Lungvi Basti village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang village bordering Myanmar.
An Assam police team brought him home to Jagun after being informed by their Arunachal Pradesh counterparts.
The police said they were trying to find out if the tea estate’s owner or Mr. Upadhyay’s relatives paid the ransom amount or a part of it to secure his release.
The victim has said he had no idea about any monetary transaction. “I had no money, and no one paid anyone anything while I was in captivity. I am not sure where I was taken to, but my abductors moved me from one place to another on foot. Yesterday, five rebels took me to a village and left me there. I came to know the village was in Arunachal,” Mr. Upadhyay said.
He thanked the outfit and Mr. Baruah for releasing him unharmed.
Mr. Upadhyay’s family had begun “offering prayers” to a portrait of the fugitive extremist leader since June 19, the deadline the ULFA-I had set for the payment of ransom. “We regard him [Mr. Baruah] as our God because, like the Almighty, he controlled the fate of my father while he was in ULFA-I’s captivity. God answered our prayers,” the victim’s son said.
Mr. Baruah had formed the breakaway ULFA-I in April 2013 after most of the outfit’s leaders, who were either captured or had surrendered, decided to pursue peace talks.
He said he was not keen on truce until New Delhi put the issue of sovereignty of Assam on the negotiation table.