The government of India is sending 3,000 troops to the Indian state of Assam after what the police have called the worst violence in a decade.
The violence occurred mostly in the border town of Tinsukia, the main travel junction for several GFA Bible college students in the region. Rebel blockades left the students stranded and unable to return to school. The trade route to neighboring states was also blocked. Supplies can’t get through and food prices are soaring.
On Sunday, December 31, seperatist rebels in Assam shot seven brick makers, some of nearly 70 people who have been killed in the sporadic violence over the past weeks. But, while intense right now, the violence has been going on for years.
Created in April 1979, the goal of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) is, as stated on their website, “To liberate Assam through armed national liberation struggle from the clutches of the illegal occupation of India and to establish a sovereign, independent Assam.”
Ulfa rebels cite “…problems such as influx of foreigners and massive exploitation of its natural resources…” as their motivation to fight.
The seven brick makers killed December 31 were Hindi speakers from the neighboring Indian state of Bihar. Days before that attack, 48 people were killed by the rebels in attacks on six different colonies of laborers—the victims were all settlers from other states. In another incident, 28 Hindi-speaking milkmen were murdered by Ulfa rebels.
According to BBC news, “railway stations are crowded with thousands of Hindi-speaking settlers waiting to catch the next train out of the state.” The Indian government has asked them to stay, saying they will crush Ulfa within six months. But the settlers have little confidence as, after previous failed talks between the government and Ulfa, the rebels set off bomb blasts across the state.
“It is a very difficult situation which has been going on for a long time,” Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan said. Believers across Assam have asked for prayer for the safe return of the Bible college students, that the violence will end once and for all and that the truth of the Gospel will bring peace to the people of Assam.