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Rajkhowa set to leave prison

Guwahati/Jorhat, Dec. 30: Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa alias Rajib Rajkonwar was today granted bail in six Tada cases registered against him, paving the way for his much-awaited release from jail.

The development is being viewed as a crucial step towards facilitating talks between the government and the outfit.

Official sources said home minister P. Chidambaram arrived here tonight. They said he would be “updated” about the developments related to Ulfa and the NDFB.

Chidambaram will stay overnight at Raj Bhavan and leave for Arunachal Pradesh early tomorrow morning. He will return to Delhi tomorrow evening.

Earlier, designated judge (Tada court) Soneka Bora passed the order granting Rajkhowa bail. He will be released on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh with two sureties of similar amounts. He is likely to walk out of jail within the next couple of days.

Rajkhowa’s counsel Bijon Kumar Mahajan said the bail was granted on condition that he would not leave the country till the disposal of the cases, deposit his passport (if any) to the court, not leave the state without informing the officer in charge of the police station of the area where he is a permanent resident, not commit any offence, not threaten the victims and their loved ones and the witnesses of the cases and not misuse the liberty given to him.

Apart from the six Tada cases, there are five other cases registered against him in which he had already secured bail.

Five other senior leaders of the outfit released on bail are Ulfa ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain alias Mama, vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, central publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary and self-styled deputy commander-in-chief Raju Barua.

Two other leaders — foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika — have also moved petition for bail.

Welcoming the development, Rajkhowa’s elder brother Ajoy Rajkonwar said his release from jail would pave the way for talks, ending more than three decades of insurgency in the state.

Echoing him, Rajkhowa’s sister Lina Baruah said, “I have no words to express my joy. Finally, after so many years, he will come home. All of us, particularly our mother (Damayanti) are very happy that he will be among us this Magh Bihu.”

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