The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ulfa ‘endures’ poll for peace

Guwahati, April 7: The outlawed Ulfa today said it had restrained its members from “armed activities” during elections in Assam ' the first instance of the outfit not calling for a poll boycott ' solely in the interest of its peace process with Delhi.

In his customary message to the people on the outfit’s “raising day”, its 27th, chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said groups with “vested interests” were trying to scuttle the peace process by killing its members, hoping this would provoke it to walk out of the peace process.

He said Ulfa’s decision not to disrupt the polls must not be construed as an acceptance of the electoral process, which he described as one “forced” on the people of Assam. “As long as these elections are held, Assam will remain suppressed under Indian colonial rule.”

He made the statements through the Ulfa mouthpiece, Freedom.

The Ulfa chairman also urged the United Nations and all “democratic countries of the world” to persuade Bhutan and India to divulge the whereabouts of its members who went missing during the military operation in the Himalayan kingdom in December 2003.

Rajkhowa claimed that some people had been attempting to derail the peace process ever since it began. He said incidents like the custody death of Ajit Mahanta in Kakopathar were part of this sinister gameplan.

Looking back at the 12 months that went by since Ulfa’s last raising day, the militant leader said the outfit had been successful in placing the issue of “sovereignty of Assam” before Delhi. “Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has agreed to discuss all issues raised by Ulfa and find political solutions.”

There have been two rounds of talks so far between the Ulfa-constituted People’s Consultative Group (PCG) and Delhi.

The negotiations are expected to resume after the elections. Depending on how round number three goes, it could be the PCG’s last and the beginning of the much-awaited “direct talks” between the Ulfa leadership and Delhi.

This is one of the reasons why the outfit has again raised the demand for the “unconditional release” of those who went missing during Operation All Clear in Bhutan ' if they are alive, that is.

Responding to notices by Gauhati High Court on a petition filed by the wife of one of the missing Ulfa members, the defence ministry this week submitted a list of names in a sealed envelope.

Several of the missing members are in the decision-making panels of the Ulfa and their presence is supposed to be necessary to take the peace process forward.

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