GUWAHATI: Once enmity ran high between them. But now their enmity has taken a different turn. The battle against coronavirus or COVID-19 has brought former ULFA militants and the Army to help each other.
The wives, sisters and other family members of the pro-talks ULFA members in Darrang district are delivering face masks in bulk to the Army unit based in the district to fight against the deadly virus. The Army has also extended helping hand in this endeavour by providing sewing machines to former ULFAs family members.
Juthika Nath, Binapani Deka, Sangrami Choudhury, Kabita Choudhury and Chitamoni Kalita have already switched over 1,000 face triple-layer and double layer masks made from the traditional Assamese gamosas. They have supplied these masks to 14 Garhwal Regiment of the Army posted in Darrang district. The Army unit has been purchasing the masks at Rs 20 each.
Dulumoni Gogoi alias Dilip Deka, a resident of Darrang who joined the ULFA in 1989 and spent more than two years in jail, said the women members from their families made 1,000 plus gamosas in this year's Rongali Bihu. "Since the Rongali bihu could not be celebrated in a grand manner due to the ongoing lockdown against COVID-19, the women switched and converted the gamosas into face masks," Gogoi said.
More than 40 former ULFA cadres in Darrang district formed Development Action for Social Transformation in Rural (DAST-R), an NGO in 2017 and took up agriculture, horticulture, fishery, weaving and other income-generating activities in the district. Two officers from 14 Garhwal Regiment of the Army visited the DAST-R two months ago and provided sewing machines for setting up a tailoring unit for the women members.
"We once fought against each others. Former ULFA members even attacked the Army before they joined the mainstream. Now things have taken different turn and COVID-19 has changed the scenario completely. At a time when coronavirus has threatened existence of the humanity, it is time to help each other. We feel great to help the Army personnel who always remain in the forefront whenever the country faces any disaster and crisis," Gogoi said.