Assam separatist movements are insurgency movements operating in India's oil-rich state of Assam. The conflict started in the 1970s following tension between the local Assamese and the Indian government over alleged neglect and internal colonisation through its federal centre in Delhi. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of 12,000 United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) members and 18,000 others. The separatist movements initially was supported by the locals in Assam but later lost support because of innocent killings. But even now there are some who support their goal of gaining independence.
Several organisations contribute to the insurgency including the ULFA, the Adivasi National Liberation Army, Karbi Longri N.C. Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) with ULFA perhaps the largest of these groups, and one of the oldest, having been founded in 1979. The ULFA has attacked Hindi-speaking migrant workers and a movement exists favouring secession from the Republic of India. The alleged neglect and economic exploitation by the Indian state are the main reasons behind the growth of this secessionist movement.
The ULFA seeks to establish a sovereign Assam via armed struggle. The Government of India banned the organization in 1990 and classifies it as a terrorist group, while the US State Department lists it under "Other groups of concern".
Founded at Rang Ghar, a historic structure dating to the Ahom kingdom on April 7, 1979, the ULFA has been the subject of military operations by the Indian Army since 1990, which have continued into the present. In the past two decades some 30,000 people have died in the clash between the rebels and the government. Though separatist sentiment is considered strong, it is disputed if the secessionist movement continues to enjoy popular support. Conversely, assertions of Assamese nationalism are found in Assamese literature and culture. The neglect and exploitation by the Indian state are common refrains in the Assamese-language media with some reports casting the ULFA leaders as saviors.
Internationally acclaimed Assamese novelist Indira Goswami has tried to broker peace for several years between the rebels and the government. In a recent development Hiren Gohain, a public intellectual, has stepped in to expedite the process.