The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Army salvo at Ulfa backfires

Guwahati, Sept. 5: A statement meant to damage Ulfa’s image as a militant group on the mend has damaged the army’s credibility instead.

Two wings of the defence establishment today sparred over the press release issued by the defence wing of the Press Information Bureau last evening, accusing Ulfa of using the peace process as a cover to regroup.

Sources in the army said a court of inquiry could be instituted considering the fact that the statement was not an authorised one.

It transpired that the army’s Narengi-based 4 TAC (tactical unit) forced junior staff of the PIB’s defence wing to release the statement to the media without the authorisation of their seniors.

The 4 TAC operates under the Tezpur-headquartered 4 Corps and the PIB is under the Union information and broadcasting ministry.

“This is in very bad taste and we are taking up the issue at the appropriate level,” a PIB official said. “A court of inquiry cannot be ruled out.”

The PIB’s defence wing had begun a damage-control exercise the moment senior officers heard of such a statement being issued. However, the release reached the media before they could intercept it.

“We cannot allow the PIB (defence wing) to be used as a launch-pad for psy-ops (psychological operations),” one of the officers said.

A senior army officer admitted to the presence of “warmongers among us” who were bent on sabotaging the Ulfa-Delhi peace process.

“If it has to be war, then let there be war. But we cannot be talking in different voices when a move is on to amicably resolve the issue with Ulfa. The contents of the statement may be authentic but the release of the statement was ill-timed,” he said. “It was the right ammo fired at the wrong time.”

The Ulfa-constituted People’s Consultative Group (PCG) described the statement as another manifestation of the army’s alleged keenness to derail the peace process.

The Ulfa leadership, too, reacted strongly to the allegations against the outfit, saying the contents of the statement were the “figment of some anti-Assam army officers’ imagination”.

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