Guwahati: At a time when the Centre and the state governments are trying to maintain law and order, there are reports of around 100 youths joining the outlawed faction ULFA-I for the sake of the Assamese community and people. In November, Munna Barua, nephew of the banned outfit’s chief Paresh Barua joined the force.

In a Facebook video which has gone viral, a youth hailing from Moran has confirmed that he has joined the rebel militant outfit. The youth has been identified as Chow Abhijit Gogoi, 27.

Gogoi, in the video, has claimed to have graduated as an engineer from SRM University in Chennai in 2012. He said that he was an MBA and had worked in multiple countries, including Singapore and Australia. Before joining the militant outfit, Gogoi claimed, he was working in Bengaluru. 

In the video, that appeared on social media platforms on Friday, Gogoi claimed that he had picked up arms to “save the Assamese community”.

“Whatever is happening in Assam, is unfortunate. Youngsters should come forward to do something for the community. If we don’t come out to save ourselves, then no one will come to save us. I invite young generation to come forward for the community,” Gogoi is purportedly heard saying in the video. He also claimed that “indigenous people” were facing trouble because of migrants in neighbouring Tripura.

Gogoi is not the first to upload a video after joining the banned outfit. In October, a video featuring another recruit Pankaj Pratim Dutta, previously a local leader of the All Assam Student Union in Golaghat district, was uploaded.

A senior Assam police officer, without wishing to be named, compared the trend of uploading videos to “just like militants do in Kashmir”. He added that the huge public sentiment is due to the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the state has made the outfit recruit more and more youths, especially in the upper Assam region.

Since September 1, police say, at least 11 people from Tinsukia and Udalguri districts have joined the banned outfit, while another 11 have surrendered. A senior police officer in Tinsukia – considered to be a hotbed of ULFA(I) – said that in 2017 and 2018, at least nine youths joined the outfit from the district, while another 22 had been “brought back” by the police.

Recently, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the trend is not new as every year 150-200 youths from Assam joined ULFA-I.

“They joined the outfit due to lack of employment opportunities, not because they dislike the government or oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” he added.

With The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the government plans to change the definition of illegal migrants. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction. However, the Act doesn’t have a provision for Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas who also face persecution in Pakistan.

The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation. 

On the other hand, opposition Congress blamed the both Centre and state government for ignoring the sentiments of the people of Assam which led to such incidents.