Assam politicians use ULFA issue during polls: rebel leader

February 10th, 2009 - 12:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Feb 10 (IANS) The leader of a pro-talk faction of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Tuesday accused politicians of hobnobbing with the outfit and alleged that political parties in Assam have been using the insurgency issue to its advantage in all elections since 1991.

“Since the 1991 elections, political parties have used the ULFA issue either negatively or positively for political gains. In fact, no party could afford to do without the ULFA and the people of Assam know that,” president of the pro-talk ULFA group Mrinal Hazarika told IANS.

Two of ULFA’s potent striking units, the Alpha and Charlie companies of the 28th battalion led by Hazarika, announced a unilateral ceasefire last June.

“There were politicians who had connections with the ULFA and used the ULFA issue to whip up emotions. There is no need to elaborate on this,” Hazarika said.

The pro-talk ULFA group has formally given up its demand for sovereignty or independence and is instead harping on the theme of granting greater autonomy to Assam.

“It is very unlikely that Paresh Baruah (ULFA commander-in-chief belonging to the anti-talk faction) would come for talks with the government. He is a person with a very adamant stand and would rather die then giving up the struggle midway,” Hazarika said.

The rebel leader said that despite External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Dhaka and the pressure on Bangladesh to crack down on northeastern militant bases in the neighbouring country, nothing much would happen.

“Beyond a point, the Bangladesh government would not take any harsh action against northeast militants due to domestic compulsions,” Hazarika said.

“It is true there are many ULFA leaders and cadres in Bangladesh,” he added.

Hazarika also came down heavily on Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) for allegedly masterminding the infamous “secret killings”.

Around a dozen close relatives of ULFA guerrillas were killed across the state between 1996 and 2001 when Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was heading the AGP government.

The “secret killings”, as they came to be known, became a major issue during the assembly polls in 2001 in which the Congress led by Tarun Gogoi returned to power, defeating the AGP.

“Everybody knows that the AGP under Mahanta used the state machinery for the secret killings and they also lost the elections on this issue in 2001,” Hazarika said.

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