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Sulfa panel seeks Assam autonomy

Guwahati, Aug. 23: Former Ulfa rebels, who came overground in the early nineties, have demanded “autonomous state” status for Assam while rejecting the Arabinda Rajkhowa-led group’s recent charter of demands.

The All Assam Surrendered Ulfa Samittee has moved governor J.B. Patnaik and the Centre demanding that Assam should be given the status of an autonomous state.

“About 3,000 of us had come overground in 1992 for solving the problems through talks but we don’t accept the recent demands made by the Ulfa group led by our chairman Rajkhowa. We believe that there was no need for three decades of armed fight for the kind of demands they have made before the government. We have always demanded autonomous state status for Assam to protect the identity and interests of the indigenous people of our state,” president of the Sammittee, Raj Kumar Duarah, said here today.

The samittee on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the governor demanding autonomy for Assam, rehabilitation of the surrendered cadres of the outfit, withdrawal of court cases of the surrendered militants, deportation of foreigners, among others.

He said the samittee was formed in 1992 for solving the Ulfa issue through dialogue with the government but the Rajkhowa group did not hold any discussion with them while preparing the charter of demands, which it presented to the Centre.

“We believe that the demands made by the group have nothing to fulfil the aspirations of the people. If they are not demanding sovereignty for Assam, at least autonomous state status should be given. Autonomous state status will ensure political and land rights of the indigenous people and fulfil their economic, social and cultural demands,” he said.

The organisation at present has 9,672 surrendered cadres and leaders of Ulfa.

Sunil Nath, Kalpajyoti Neog, Munin Nabis are among the prominent leaders of the outfit who had surrendered to begin talks with the government.

The Ulfa group led by its commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, too, had rejected the Rajkhowa group’s decision to begin talks with the government and the charter they presented before the Centre, which would be the basis for dialogue.

Duarah said the samittee supported Barua’s stand and said they would back him if there was no killing of innocent people or destruction of property in the name of movement.

“Since we came overground, we supported dialogue and gave up violence. We will soon launch a peaceful movement in support of the demands we made before the government,” Duarah said.

He said many of the surrendered Ulfa cadres who had given up the path of violence were yet to be rehabilitated by the government.

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