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Delhi delay tests NDFB patience

Kokrajhar, Feb. 27: Breaking his silence with a stern warning to Delhi, the chief of the banned National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) today said any further delay in reciprocating his outfit's unilateral ceasefire could queer the pitch for a dialogue.

Ranjan Daimary, the reclusive leader of the banned Bodo group, said in an email from his hideout that the NDFB's unilateral ceasefire should not be construed as 'a sign of weakness'. He criticised Delhi for failing to 'understand the sincerity and honesty' of the outfit.

The NDFB's unilateral truce took effect on October 15 and is set to lapse on April 15.

Daimary said his patience was wearing thin after waiting so long for Delhi to declare a ceasefire and convene a dialogue. 'The NDFB is prepared either to talk to the government of India to resolve the conflict democratically and peacefully or to continue our armed struggle till we achieve our goal, which is freedom,' he said.

The NDFB chief's statement confirms reports about the NDFB rank and file becoming increasingly restive because of the delay in reciprocating the ceasefire.

'We declared a ceasefire to initiate talks with the government of India, but our declaration has not been honoured and respected,' Daimary, alias D.R.Nabla, said.

He disclosed that the NDFB had authorised its general secretary, B. Swmkhwr, to prepare the ground rules of a ceasefire agreement and modalities for talks. 'He is in touch with officials of the government of India.'

The militant leader claimed the army had been killing NDFB activists 'in false encounters', but the organisation had not retaliated even once. 'We want to give peace a chance and we will stick to the ceasefire declaration. Not a single bullet has been fired at the Indian security forces by the Boroland army. Also, we are not using the time of ceasefire to rejuvenate our cadre and bolster weaponry, and will not do so till the ceasefire lapses on April 15, 2005.'

An intelligence official described the statement as a 'veiled threat' to Delhi. 'The outfit appears to be ready to resume its armed struggle if the Centre does not respond to its peace overture,' the official said.

A few weeks earlier, another senior leader of the NDFB had accused security forces of targeting the outfit's cadre 'without provocation' and threatened to 'renew our counter-offensive'.

The NDFB has been campaigning for a 'sovereign Bodoland' for 18 years now. Pressure mounted on the outfit to start a dialogue for peace after the rival Bodo Liberation Tigers ' now disbanded ' signed an accord with Dispur and Delhi to form the Bodoland Territorial Council.

On its 18th raising day on October 3 last year, the NDFB chief announced that the organisation was 'seriously considering' accepting Dispur's offer of a ceasefire. Daimary announced a unilateral truce on October 8 'to create a congenial atmosphere for talks with the government of India'.

The Tarun Gogoi ministry washed its hands of the peace process after the NDFB categorically stated that it was not interested in a dialogue with the state government. The outfit said it had declared a truce to initiate talks only with the Centre.

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