The Assam separatist movements are insurgency movements in the Assam state of India. The conflict started in the 1970s. It stems from tension between Assamese and alleged neglect and internal colonisation by the Indian government with its federal centre in Delhi. Additionally, the state is rich in oil resources. The Assamese Separatist Movement alone has taken a toll of 12,000 ULFA members and 18,000 others. The secessionist goals of the separatist movement in Assam have lacked popular support, with most Assamese sympathizing with the separatist groups but not empathizing with their goals.
ULFA founded at the site of Rang Ghar on April 7, 1979, a historic structure from the Ahom kingdom. Military operations against it by the Indian Army that began in 1990 continues till present. In the past two decades some 30,000 people have died in the clash between the rebels and the government. Though separatist sentiments deems strong, , it is disputed if the secessionist movement enjoys popular support any longer. On the other hand, strong Assamese nationalism can be found in Assamese literature and culture. The neglect and exploitation by the Indian state are common refrains in the Assamese-language media. There are instances when even the ULFA leaders are seen as saviors.
Internationally acclaimed Assamese novelist Indira Goswami has been trying 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.
^"the strength of ULFA lies more in the sympathy factor it gets among its home-population (despite lack of empathy for its declared goal) than in cadres and weapons" Nath, Sunil (2001). "The Secessionist Insurgency and the Freedom of Minds". www.satp.org. Institute for Conflict Management. Retrieved 24 January 2014.