ULFA rejects plea by sacked colleagues to talk peace

July 28th, 2008 - 4:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, July 28 (IANS) The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), one of northeastern India’s frontline separatist groups, has rejected pleas by rebel colleagues to side with them and start peace talks with the Indian government for an acceptable solution to the 29-year-old insurrection in Assam, a rebel statement said Monday. “We had entrusted the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) that we had set up in 2005 to initiate the process for possible peace talks with the Indian government. We are not ready to endorse initiatives by any group which lacks credibility,” ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said in a statement released on the occasion of the group’s ‘martyrs’ day’ Sunday.

Leaders of the Alpha and Charlie companies of the ULFA’s crack ‘28th battalion’ announced a ceasefire June 24 and have since been calling upon Rajkhowa and other central committee leaders of the rebel group to join them and start peace negotiations with New Delhi to work out an acceptable solution to the insurgency.

The ULFA has since expelled three top pro-talk leaders belonging to the ‘28th battalion’ for “violating the (group’s) constitution and flouting rules”, but the trio, that includes Mrinal Hazarika and Jiten Dutta, maintain they belong to the ULFA.

In his statement, e-mailed to journalists, Rajkhowa described all activities carried out by the pro-talk leaders of the ‘28th battalion’ as illegal and called upon the people of Assam not to extend any cooperation to them.

“There should be a ceasefire only after political discussions have begun. The manner in which some leaders of the 28th battalion have called a ceasefire means they have fallen to the ploy of the occupational forces,” Rajkhowa said.

The ULFA chairman in his statement decided to talk on a subject that the group has preferred to remain silent on all these years - the issue of illegal infiltration from Bangladesh.

“The government of India has failed to implement the Assam Accord even after 25 years of its signing…The government will never deport foreigners from India and there is no solution to the problems of illegal infiltration into Assam under the system of governance of imperialist India,” Rajkhowa said.

This is the first time that ULFA is speaking out against the non-implementation of the 1985 Assam Accord that had fixed March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and expulsion of illegal Bangladeshi migrants from the state.

The accord was reached between the central government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) to bring the curtains down to the six-year-long anti-foreigner (read anti-illegal Bangladeshi migrants) agitation in the state.

Indian authorities as well as analysts believe that the ULFA was keeping mum on the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration to Assam as its leaders were said to be operating out of bases in Bangladesh.

However, the pro-talk leaders have started harping on the problem of illegal influx from Bangladesh, saying the ULFA leadership failed to respond to the grave issue of the infiltrators having the possibility of outnumbering the indigenous people in the state.

Analysts say the ULFA chairman’s decision to blame the Indian government for failing to implement the 1985 Assam Accord and thereby allowing illegal migrants to stay on is an attempt to counter the pro-talk leaders who have gone to the masses, highlighting various issues, including that of illegal influx from Bangladesh.

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