Clear stand on ULFA’s demand, Gogoi asks citizen’s forum


Guwahati : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Monday asked the Citizen’s Forum members to make clear whether they personally support or reject the demand for sovereignty the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has advocated.

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“Let the intellectuals first decide on whether they accept or disapprove ULFA’s sovereignty demand and let their views be made public,” the chief minister told journalists here.

He was reacting to a recent resolution passed at a state level convention of the newly floated Citizen’s Forum that urged the government to immediately begin peace talks with the ULFA by discussing the outfit’s core demands.

“What is the point in discussing sovereignty if such a demand is not acceptable? We have always maintained sovereignty cannot be compromised…now let the intellectuals and leading citizens make their views of sovereignty public, whether they accept or reject sovereignty,” Gogoi said.

The ULFA is fighting for an independent Assam since 1979 and sovereignty has been its core demand.

The chief minister also made it clear that peace talks with the ULFA could begin soon minus their elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah.

“Why should we wait indefinitely for Paresh Baruah. If the other ULFA leaders are ready, we can begin talks,” Gogoi said.

The entire top brass of the ULFA, barring Baruah, is in jail.

The imprisoned leaders include chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.

Meanwhile, Gogoi lauded Bangladesh for facilitating the arrest of Ranjan Daimary, the chairman of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the prime accused in the Oct 30, 2008, serial explosions that killed 100 people in Assam.

Daimary was handed over by Bangladesh to Indian authorities Saturday and is now in police remand.

“Daimary is a big catch for us and we are happy with the attitude of Bangladesh,” Gogoi said.