Newly formed United Muslim National Army suspected to have played a key role in the recent ethnic violence in Assam is likely to be linked to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. Vicky Nanjappa reports
While top officials in India blamed local issues for the violence in Assam, the focus has now shifted to the role played by a little known outfit called the United Muslim Nationalist Army in triggering the clashes.
The UMNA has been accused of stirring up emotions and attacking the Bodos as a result of which the situation in the state went from bad to worse.
According to Intelligence Bureau officials, the UMNA adopted a standard operation wherein they stirred communal sentiments of Muslim migrants expecting that the blame would fall on the Bodos. Moreover, the decision by the Bodos to lay down arms and sit across the table for talks has not been exactly what their sponsors have been wanting.
The UMNA has behaved like a typical state-sponsored group and enticed passion among the people already in the conflict.
Sources say that the issue of land was an existent one. Indian agencies who were aware of this had been making attempts to resolve the crisis. Moreover, the rate of infiltration into Assam had declined and the issue at hand was concerning the old settlers in these areas.
IB officials say that outfits such as the UMNA receive funds from Pakistan and Bangladesh. They have also been collecting funds from the locals.
The UNMA has fashioned itself on the lines of the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam. The outfit decided to take up arms in June and vowed to fight the battle at Kokrajhar. Their target has been the Bodo people.
There is very little intelligence on their activities. However, the sudden cache of ammunition being found and the decision of the UMNA to take up arms has got intelligence agencies thinking about their role in the riots.
The UNMA had always maintained that they would fight for the migrants and get them land. Although it started off on a peaceful note, they took to violence and this according to the IB may be due to provocation from a foreign land.
IB officials say that like the MULTA, even the UNMA is catering to the need of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, which is working towards the growth of Islamistan within Assam. They realise that there are many migrants who could back them.
The UMNA like MULTA too have recruited migrants as part of their cadre. Earlier, they relied heavily on donations and extortions for funds. However, the arms and ammunition used in the recent violence in Assam indicate that they are now received funds from countries across the border, say sources.
However, the point that needs to be taken into account is that local leaders have deliberately not let the issue between the migrants and the Bodos settle down.
Assam, which had managed to put down the MULTA, will now have to deal with the growing clout of the UMNA.