Blasts hit Assam, ULFA and NDFB split formally (Lead)

January 1st, 2009 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Jan 1 (IANS) It was a bloody and dramatic beginning to the New Year Thursday with multiple blasts ripping through this Assam town and splits in two of the state’s frontline separatist groups, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). The two potent striking units of the ULFA’s 28th battalion, the Alpha and Charlie companies that entered into a unilateral ceasefire June last year announced formation of a parallel organisation.

“From today onwards, we would have no truck with the ULFA and we want to be called as the pro-talk ULFA faction. We also have decided to give up the demand for sovereignty or independence and instead work towards achieving greater autonomy for Assam,” pro-talk ULFA leader Mrinal Hazarika said.

The statement came as at least 15 people were injured in serial bomb blasts in Guwahati. One blast occurred in a crowded market at Bhutnath area in the city, injuring six people, and two more blasts took place on a roadside near Birubari area.

The breakaway ULFA group’s decision was taken at a meeting held at the government-run designated camp of the faction at Kakopathar in eastern Assam.

“When we declared a ceasefire, we thought the ULFA top leadership would come for peace talks. But after six months we realised the ULFA leadership is not interested in peace talks, and hence we decided to form a parallel organisation,” Hazarika said.

This is the first time the ULFA has split, 29 years after it was formed.

The other most dreaded rebel group, the NDFB too witnessed a formal split on Thursday.

The NDFB Thursday expelled its founder president D.R. Nabla alias Ranjan Daimary for his role in the serial explosions in October that killed nearly 100 people.

The decision by the NDFB to expel its former president follows confessional statement made by an arrested rebel leader Ajay Basumatary that the serial explosions Oct 30 in Assam were masterminded by Nabla.

“We are shocked and surprised that D.R. Nabla was directly involved in the series of explosions. The NDFB, therefore, unanimously decided to expel Nabla from the outfit as a disciplinary action,” B. Sungthagra, the new president of the NDFB, said in a statement to IANS.

“The act (serial explosions) is undoubtedly an act of terrorism and can never be part of a revolutionary struggle,” the rebel statement said.

The NDFB, blamed for the October serial bombings in Assam, removed its Bangladesh-based president last month with a new leader and announced its decision to contest next year’s parliamentary elections either “directly or indirectly”.

The NDFB general assembly that met Dec 15 replaced its founder president Nabla and appointed his deputy Sungthagra alias Dhiren Boro as their leader.

The NDFB is a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland for the Bodo tribe with the outfit in a ceasefire with New Delhi since 2005. The ceasefire expired Wednesday but the central government is yet to extend it.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists in New Delhi Wednesday that the ceasefire extension with the NDFB would depend on the report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) currently probing the Assam bombings.

“We have asked the central government not to extend the ceasefire with the NDFB,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Thursday.

The NDFB was one of the prime accused in the wave of bombings in Assam Oct 30 where close to 100 people were killed and 300 more wounded.

Nabla last week claimed he was still the president of the NDFB despite the outfit’s national assembly deciding to remove him from the post.

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