[Assam] Politicians keeping ULFA issue alive
Dilip and Dil Deka
dilipdeka at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 7 10:14:53 IST 2009
I don't think the netters would have missed this article in the Assam Tribune. Since no one posted it, I thought it is worthwhile bringing it to people's attention. Many of us have always suspected that the political parties in Assam have kept the ULFA issue alive for their benefit. Now some insiders are talking about it.
Politicians keeping ULFA issue alive
NEW DELHI, Feb 6 – Confirming what has been widely suspected, pro-talk group of ULFA said the banned outfit has played an active role in every election in the State since 1992. The breakaway faction charged the political parties with keeping the ULFA problem alive to serve their own interest.
The open assertion by the pro-talk group ahead of the Parliament election is likely to trigger a heated debate on links between the political parties and ULFA. The banned outfit has had a hand in formation of every government since 1991, asserted Mrinal Hazarika replying to questions during an interaction with students studying in Delhi.
Without getting into details, Hazarika, who was accompanied by Prabal Neog, said that ULFA had links with one party or the other at some point of time. “We cannot deny involvement of any political party or minister with ULFA”, he said..
Hazarika, however, declined to single out anyone by name, asserting that no politician in the State can manage polls without help from ULFA.
Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led AGP Government was dismissed in 1990 by Central Government for its alleged links with ULFA. Tarun Gogoi Government has also faced allegations from time to time about involvement of some of its ministers with ULFA, though he has consistently denied it.
Significantly enough, these former ULFA men hold the political parties responsible for the delay in resolution of the vexed militancy problem. The State’s political parties are keen on keeping the ULFA problem alive. They do not want this problem to be solved, asserted Hazarika last evening, interacting with a group of journalists.
The Government of Assam has also not shown interest to solve the problem, he added.
When asked whether they planned to play in a role in the ensuing elections, Hazarika said they have started interacting with few leaders and are pressing them to highlight the issues they have been raising. “We also propose to appeal to them to unite all the ethnic tribal groups of the State”, he said.
The three-member delegation of former ULFA men including Jiten Dutta has been touring the capital to drum up support for their cause. The leaders said they want to evolve a consensus on the burning problems of the State and build up a movement to establish that ULFA has become extraneous and the demand for sovereignty has become irrelevant.
“Unfortunately, ULFA has for the past 29 years of struggle, shoddily deviated from its ideological goals. So, we have decided to put a momentary break on our armed struggle and to pave out a way through democratic struggle for the protection of our existence”, the leaders said.
The group has worked out a 12-point charter of demands, which would be formally submitted on February 20 to the Prime Minister through the office of the Chief Minister.
The demands include total autonomy, as against sovereignty, creation of upper House of the Assembly, the issue of illegal migrants, flood and erosion problem, construction of the Stilwell Road, halt to construction of mega dams in upper reaches of Brahmaputra river mainly in Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan, besides total control over the State’s resources.
Clarifying their demand for total autonomy, Hazarika said they advocate a federal structure, where Centre would hold on to only four responsibilities including defence, currency, external affairs and commerce.
Interestingly enough, the pro-talk group does not see much hope of massive crackdown on ULFA and other militant outfits based in Bangladesh after Awami League came to power. In Bangladesh, the Army and the DGFI are all-powerful and the State cannot do much without their consent.
There may be some minor actions but those will be more of an eyewash, they opined.
The leaders, however, refused to accept Government of India’s contention that over 97 ULFA camps existed in Bangladesh. It is not possible to have such a large number of camps, though there are few camps and shelters in urban areas, Hazarika said.
Confirming ULFA’s relationship with ISI and DGFI, the leaders said commander-in-chief Paresh Barua has not visited the State since 1992, though chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa was in Assam for a long time after that.
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