The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Frustrated rebels blame it on Duggal

Guwahati, Jan. 2: Ulfa has found a scapegoat for the breakdown of its peace process with Delhi: V.K. Duggal.

The Ulfa bulletin Swadhinata accused the Union home secretary, who is to visit Assam on Thursday, of “creating hurdles” at every step of the peace process. It said Duggal was the prime advocate of a military solution to insurgency instead of a political one.

The allegation was provoked by Duggal’s remark that Ulfa must state in writing its willingness to hold a dialogue with Delhi within the parameters of the Constitution and also call a halt to violence.

The Union home secretary will be visiting Assam this week to take stock of the state’s preparedness for the 33rd National Games in terms of security. Ulfa has called for a boycott of the twice-postponed Games, putting a spanner in the government’s plans to make it a grand show.

Duggal’s last visit to Assam was also for a security review. He came in the wake of the twin blasts in Guwahati in November and oversaw the overhaul of the three-tier unified command’s counter-insurgency strategy.

Apart from assessing security arrangements for the National Games this time, the home secretary will hold discussions with senior home department and police officials on the abduction of a junior engineer of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) from Udalguri.

Police sources said Ulfa has telephoned BRO officials and asked them to stop work in Udalguri and its adjoining areas under the Bodoland Territorial Council.

The militant group has asked for Rs 50 lakh in ransom to release junior engineer M. Ganeshan, who was kidnapped from Gitibari, under Paneri police station, on December 22. His captors had initially demanded Rs 3 crore.

The army, police and paramilitary forces have been fruitlessly searching for Ganeshan in suspected militant hideouts.

A source in the home department said Ulfa militants were “very active” in Udalguri and adjoining Baksa district. Both these places are also strongholds of the National Democratic Front of Boroland.

Ulfa’s growing presence in the Bodo heartland was confirmed by a militant who was arrested in Guwahati recently.

The army shot dead two Ulfa members in an encounter in Tinsukia district this morning. The encounter occurred at Chiringchuburi Dimaruholla, under Bordubi police station of Tinsukia district, around 9 am.

Witnesses said soldiers from the 19 Kumaon Regiment chased the two militants towards a paddy field before firing from close range. The army contended that the militants opened fire first.

The slain militants were Surajit Gohain, alias Juganta Phukon, and Kamal Gohain, alias Kankan Gogoi. A 9mm pistol, some ammunition, documents and a wad of paper currency were found on them.

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