As Assam’s AASU leader joins ULFA(I), will this set precedent for more youth to follow suit?

As Assam’s AASU leader joins ULFA(I), will this set precedent for more youth to follow suit?

By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR | October 25, 2018

The advent of modern technology equated with rapid population growth and development has caused a void between what the youth is taught as students and what skill needs to be applied in real life.

As the gap between education and employment becomes wider with each passing day, looking for job opportunities becomes an uphill task for the modern day youth, who, with his little theoretical knowledge tries to dig deep into the practical world. And as this gap increases, the desire for easy money and wind fall gains houses themselves in the minds of frustrated, angry yet ambitious youth.

It is mostly in such situations that young people fall prey to the evil desires of underground militant outfits who are constantly in search of young, ambitious youth to lure them with easy money.

The recent case of an AASU member Pankaj Pratim Dutta, Assam's prominent Students Body joining the proscribed ULFA(I) comes as no surprise. Pankaj, 27, was serving as the vice-president of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) unit in Dergaon of Assam's Golaghat district before joining the rebel group.

As Assam continues to boil under the issue of NRC that has left more than 40 lakh people out of the list and the recent protest rally as well as the shutdown called by a plethora of civil society organizations against the Citizenship Bill, who are most affected by this? It is definitely the young people and the youth.

In their vigour to serve the society and community better and to make themselves viable, the youth is always on the lookout for places that will accept them and make use of their potentials– and this is where the role of militant outfits come into the picture.

Pankaj is not the only boy from Assam to join militancy in recent times. According to security sources, a number of young boys from upper Assam districts have become part of the outfit and more are willing to join.

"There is a surge in recruitment of youths in ULFA (I), particularly in upper Assam. One of the boys said they crossed 15 hills to reach the jungles. They were assigned a task – to clean newly procured weapons for three months. They were taught to imitate different bird calls. The outfit offered them a lot of money."

Boys aged between 15 and 30 show interest in joining militancy because of varied reasons. "They are found to be suffering from anxiety, experience unemployment and become victims of false propaganda. Some have lost faith in the system completely."

Let us not forget that there have been instances in the past where several young people were arrested by police on charges of extorting money from people after posing as fake ULFA-I cadres.

22 such cases of extortion have come to light in Tinsukia district alone in the past three years. Confirming that youngsters are mainly involved in these type of cases, police said they easily get involved in these type of crimes as they are lured by easy money. Carrying out such extortion drives in the upper Assam belt becomes easier as fear psychosis of militants still prevails among the people.

I will not end this note by trying to give a solution for I am no one to do so. But the problem needs to be identified. And while identification of problems may surely not be an easy task, seeking answers to questions like these may aid:

** Why are young, energetic youth falling prey to proscribed militant outfits who have claimed innumerable lives in the past of their own people?

** If employment is the problem, then why is there no employment opportunity available to these young people and how to make them available?

** If money is the culprit then it is important to identify how and when do these young people come into contact with various militant agents? If it is through social media, why is social media not censored? And if it is in person, how is it that these proscribed militant outfit cadres roam free enough to lure our youth?

Questions maybe unending but a step by step approach to this grave crisis is a must at this crucial hour.

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