No talks took place while in custody, says ULFA chief

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,

Guwahati : Arabinda Rajkhowa, chairman of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Thursday said the peace talks remained deadlocked, and flatly denied any negotiations took place between him and the government while he was in police detention the past 12 days.

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Rajkhowa told this to his younger brother Ajay Rajkonwar while being taken to the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) at a special court inside the Guwahati Central Jail.

The CJM Thursday sent Rajkhowa and ULFA’s deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah to nine more days in police custody after investigating authorities framed three more charges relating to bomb blasts in Guwahati in the past.

“The investigating authorities had sought 12-day police remand, but the court granted them nine days police custody,” said Bijon Mahajan, legal counsel of Rajkhowa and Baruah.

For security reasons, the hearing was held inside the high security jail instead of at the CJM’s court in Guwahati.

Earlier, Rajkhowa’s younger brother and sister met him for nearly an hour inside the jail premises before the hearing took place.

“Arabinda Rajkhowa made it clear that there was no forward movement in the peace talks and that during the last 12 days while they were in police remand, no back-channel negotiations took place between them and the government,” Rajkonwar told IANS soon after emerging from the jail premises, citing his brother.

Rajkhowa, however, said the ULFA was ready for peace talks with the government.

“My brother was very clear in his stand, saying the ULFA was ready to hold peace talks with the government although any such talks would have to centre on their main demand of sovereignty,” Rajkonwar said.

The ULFA chairman, a diabetic, was being treated by medical experts during the last 12 days in police remand.

“His health is satisfactory and he enquired about our family in detail. We became emotional once again,” Rajkonwar said.

Rajkhowa and Baruah were whisked away under heavy security to the Special Branch headquarters for interrogation.

On Dec 6, Rajkhowa and Baruah with their families, Rajkhowa’s personal security guard Raja Bora, and wife of ULFA ‘foreign secretary’ Sasha Choudhury surrendered before Indian authorities at Dawki in Meghalaya and were later arrested.

The ULFA chief later denied he surrendered and said they were being arrested although he did not elaborate.