The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NDFB clears talks hurdle
- Peace hopes rise in Bodo belt, but Karbi areas grim

Guwahati, Nov. 14: The banned National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) today agreed to 'involve' the Bodoland Territorial Council and the All Bodo Students' Union in its proposed parleys with Delhi, but the positive announcement was tempered by its scathing attack on Dispur.

An e-mail from NDFB spokesperson S. Sanjarang allayed fears about a breakdown of the peace process without the support of the main players in the Bodo heartland ' the autonomous administrative council and the students' organisation.

The council's leaders were originally members of the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), the NDFB's main rival.

'In his speech on the 18th anniversary of the NDFB on the 3rd of October, the president of the NDFB told each and every Bodo and its cadre to prepare for the talks. So, while trying to resolve the conflict with India, the NDFB will certainly involve not only the leaders of BLT (Bodo Liberation Tigers) and Absu but also the entire Bodo people,' Sanjarang wrote.

The militant leader, however, mentioned that his outfit had 'nothing to do' with the BLT's accord with the Centre and the state government. 'We have nothing to do with the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts) and their administration. But we would like to clarify to the leaders of Absu and the BTAD that our ceasefire declaration is sincere and honest, and the motive of the ceasefire is to talk to the government of India and resolve the conflict peacefully and democratically.'

Criticising the Tarun Gogoi-led government's attitude, the NDFB said it intended to begin a dialogue only with Delhi. 'We have declared ceasefire to initiate talks with the government of India and not with the government of Assam. How could the Assam government, which is not even in a position to declare ceasefire and talk without the permission of government of India talk to the NDFB' it asked.

The Bodo group said it responded to Gogoi's offer of a ceasefire ' made on September 30 ' on the assumption that the government would formalise the truce by October 16. 'But instead of declaring a ceasefire, Tarun Gogoi is only talking about the ground rules of ceasefire and wants us to send a representative immediately to sign the agreed modalities. What can the NDFB and Bodo people expect from the government of Assam'

The outfit was also critical of the chief minister's alleged habit of disclosing what was happening behind the scenes, including a Dispur envoy's visit to Bangladesh to meet its leaders. 'The government of Assam is exposing the security of its own messenger and the leaders of the NDFB.'

A highly-placed source confirmed that the state government's messenger had reached the NDFB's base in Bangladesh.

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