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Support makes duo defiant
- Crowd turns Ulfa rebels into heroes

Guwahati, Dec. 5: What was meant to be a government’s success story today threw up an unexpected public show of support for Ulfa even as the outfit’s chairman, Arabinda Rajkhowa, and its deputy commander-in-chief, Raju Barua, rubbished police claims that they had surrendered.

“We have not surrendered, we will never surrender,” an angry Rajkhowa and Barua thundered today as they were produced in the court of chief judicial magistrate, Kamrup, Robin Phukan.

Shouts of “Ulfa zindabad” and “Rajkhowa zindabad” rent the air as the appearance of the two top rebel leaders swelled emotions among the large number of people who had waited on the court premises since morning for a glimpse of the two elusive leaders. Security at the court was all-pervasive, yet the people waited all day long.

The government had claimed that Rajkhowa, Barua, Rajkhowa’s bodyguard Raja Baruah and seven others, including women and children, had surrendered to the BSF at Dawki along the Assam-Bangladesh border yesterday morning.

In about an hour, Rajkhowa and Barua emerged as heroes as they first denied having surrendered and then went on to assert that there could be no talks without the issue of Assam’s sovereignty as the main agenda.

The slogans in support of Ulfa were heard when the two leaders and Rajkhowa’s bodyguard were brought into the court and then led out after the CJM sent the trio to 12 days’ police remand.

The Kamrup (metro) superintendent of police, P.K. Saloi, was standing at hand-shaking distance of the sloganeers. There was a large posse of policemen, too, with the muzzles of their guns point-blank range away from them.

But the bigger boost for Ulfa came when the crowd urged the leaders not to surrender. “Surrender nokoribo (we will not surrender),” they shouted.

The Ulfa chairman obliged saying: “surrender nokoru moi (I will never surrender)” to wild cheers from the crowd.

“If I would have surrendered then I would not have been brought to the court handcuffed,” he said.

Echoing Rajkhowa, Raju Barua also said: “Moi surrender kora nai aru surrender nokoru (I have not surrendered and will never surrender)” before the three were whisked into the court premises by security personnel.

Advocates Bijon Mahajan, Arshad Choudhury and Pranab Kumar Das appeared on behalf of the Ulfa leaders.

Mahajan said the police sought for 14 days’ police custody in connection with a special operation unit (SOU) case number 2/1998 registered under Section 384 of the IPC read with Sections 10 and 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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