| AKRSU president Biswajit Ray felicitates Tarun Gogoi at the chief minister’s official residence in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati/Kokrajhar, Aug. 7: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi will visit New Delhi on August 11 to convey to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the statehood demands of four communities of the state.
Gogoi, according to his press adviser Bharat Chandra Narah, announced the decision after his meeting with Bodo National Conference (BNC) representatives. It was the last meeting Gogoi had in the day that started with an hourlong discussion with All-Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) members in the morning, followed by one at 6.30pm with All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) members. In between, he also reviewed the law and order situation in the state.
“The chief minister will go to New Delhi and convey the demands of the Bodos, Karbis, Koch-Rajbongshis and Dimasas to the Prime Minister because it is the Centre which will take a call on these issues. The chief minister will play the role of a facilitator,” Narah told The Telegraph.
Gogoi, who is under tremendous pressure to ensure order following the crippling agitation programmes announced by organisations seeking states, has also appealed to all communities and organisations to maintain peace during their movement.
The chief minister held back-to-back meetings with AKRSU, Absu and the BNC, the last being represented by BPF MP S.K. Bwismutiary and BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary and senior member Anjali Daimary. Narah said all three meetings were held in a “very cordial” atmosphere.
During his meeting with AKRSU members, Gogoi appealed to them to call off their agitation to ensure restoration of normality in the state, which is being ravaged by post-Telangana strikes and blockades called by various groups demanding separate states. The union’s president Biswajit Ray and general secretary Pradip Ray led the delegation.
Gogoi told the delegates, “Peace has to prevail for the process of dialogue to continue.” But they remained non-committal about calling off the agitation.
|AKRSU activists burn effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi at Basugaon in Chirang district on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos
Regarding the various demands of the organisation, the chief minister assured the student leaders that the government would look into these. He said his government would facilitate talks between the union, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde so that they can sort out the issue through discussions.
AKRSU is demanding a separate Kamtapur state comprising 15 Assam districts and six districts in north Bengal.
Assam chief secretary P.P. Varma, principal secretary (home and political) Sailesh, principal secretary to the chief minister, Jishnu Barua, additional director-general of police (special branch) Pallab Bhattacharyya and Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani member Ripun Bora, among others, also attended the meeting.
The Hiteshwar Barman faction of the union, however, termed the meeting a political game aimed at garnering votes. The members of the faction hit the streets at Dimalgaon in Kokrajhar district, carrying placards and shouting slogans and burnt effigies of the Prime Minister and the chief minister for allegedly neglecting the demands of the community.
Bani Ram Barman, president of the faction’s Kokrajhar district committee, said if the Centre and state government did not take any initiative to address their long standing demands, they, too, would resort to agitation, including indefinite railway blockades.
The Bongaigaon unit of AKRSU’s Biswajit Ray faction, however, announced today that it would end at noon tomorrow the indefinite fast currently on at the Hindi High School ground in the lower Assam town since Sunday.
The fast is being called off as members of the faction started another fast-unto-death in front of the Golokganj revenue circle office from 3 this afternoon. “Nearly 300 activists have started a fast-unto-death and it will continue till the government concedes to our demand for a separate Kamtapur state,” Kartik Roy, president of Dhubri district unit of the faction, said.