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Ulfa to persist with PCG

Guwahati/Dibrugarh, Oct. 3: The outlawed Ulfa has endorsed the People’s Consultative Group (PCG)’s decision to walk out of negotiations with Delhi but decided not to disband it, leaving a small opening for a dialogue with Delhi.

The latest issue of the militant group’s mouthpiece, Freedom, explains the PCG’s hasty exit from negotiations in protest against the “colonial mindset” of Delhi.

“Ulfa has not yet disbanded the PCG. The faith and responsibility bestowed on the PCG remains intact,” the article in Freedom states.

Although the first three days of Durga Puja were relatively quiet, Monday marked a return to violence. There was a blast in Dhemaji and an encounter in Lakhimpur on Dashami, which coincided with Gandhi Jayanti.

The nightmare of the blast that killed 13 people, including 10 students, on Independence Day in 2004 revisited Dhemaji when suspected Ulfa militants lobbed a grenade at a police gypsy around 12.30 am. The grenade exploded near a Puja pandal, killing an eight-year-old boy and wounding 17 people, including three policemen.

The victim was Debabrata Dihingia.

Six of the injured were shifted to Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh after preliminary treatment at Dhemaji Civil Hospital. The district administration announced ex gratia of Rs 10,000 to the family of the slain boy and Rs 5,000 to each of the injured.

Debabrata’s mother Bornali and sister Meenakshi are among the injured. Bornali told The Telegraph from her hospital bed that her son’s insistence on watching the arati competition at the Puja pandal claimed his life.

Dhemaji superintendent of police Mridulananda Sarma said four persons had been rounded up for interrogation.

In neighbouring Lakhimpur district, an Ulfa militant was killed in an encounter yesterday with a police team that was frisking motorcyclists and pillion-riders.

The incident occurred around 11 am.

Lakhimpur police chief N.F. Hoque said an Italian-made pistol, some ammunition and documents were found on the slain Ulfa militant, identified as “lance corporal” Sishuram Saikia. His accomplice escaped.

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