GUWAHATI, April 11 - The United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) has started a drive to recruit youths from the upper Assam districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh by engaging linkmen. Meanwhile, to thwart such attempts, the district police forces have been directed to keep in regular touch with the village defence parties and citizens� committees to keep tab on the youths reported missing from their respective areas.
Security sources told The Assam Tribune that the ULFA(I) has been trying to increase its strength by launching a fresh recruitment drive and the outfit is mostly targeting the unemployed youths. According to reports available, around 15 youths from the upper Assam districts have been taken to Myanmar recently for training. But the exact number of the fresh recruits is yet to be ascertained.
Sources said that some of the bids of the ULFA(I) to recruit youths have been foiled following arrest of the linkmen of the outfit, while, a few new recruits were also nabbed before they could be taken to Myanmar.
On the activities of the outfit, sources admitted that according to inputs available, a few hardcore members of the ULFA(I) were reportedly moving around along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh and Assam-Nagaland border areas. But it is still not known whether any member of the outfit managed to sneak into the state by taking advantage of lack of adequate security cover in the inter-state boundary areas. The ULFA(I) is also trying to boost its coffers with extortion drives and a number of tea gardens, businessmen and others received demands from the outfit.
Meanwhile, Special Director General of Police, Law and Order, Kula Saikia said that several attempts by the ULFA(I) to recruit youths have been foiled. He said that all the district police forces have been directed to constitute police station level citizens� committees to bring the people closer to the men in uniform and the process has already started. The district police forces have been directed to maintain regular contact with the VDPs and citizens� committees so that any youth missing from their respective areas is reported immediately. If any youth is reported missing, the police can verify whether the person has gone to work in other parts of the country or whether he or she joined any militant outfit, he added.
The citizens� committees were first formed by the Assam Police following a meeting in Panbazar police station in the city in July, 1996 and now the police is planning to expand it to all over the State.