The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NDFB eyes slice of peace pie

Guwahati, Feb. 6: After repeatedly rebuffing the Centre and the Assam government, the outlawed National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) appears to be finally headed for the negotiation table with its chairman Ranjan Daimari giving his associates the green signal for a political dialogue with New Delhi.

Intelligence sources here said the NDFB chief had directed two of his deputies, both in judicial custody at present, to prepare the ground for peace talks with the Centre.

The NDFB’s willingness to resolve the Bodo issue through a dialogue was confirmed during the interrogation of its arrested vice-chairman, Dhiren Boro. He was brought to Guwahati recently from Gangtok, where he had been arrested along with his wife and two aides.

The NDFB had constituted a three-member committee — comprising Boro, general secretary Gobinda Basumatary and publicity secretary B. Erakdao — to explore ways to reciprocate the Centre’s offer to hold peace talks. However, the exercise was stalled by the arrest of Boro and Basumatary.

The sources said Basumatary had emailed the outfit’s chairman, seeking his advice on the proposed political dialogue with the Centre. The NDFB chief asked his associate to go ahead with the plan, they added.

The arrested NDFB leaders could soon begin preliminary discussions with representatives of the Centre and the state government.

The reason for the change in the NDFB’s stand is the progress of talks between its rival outfit, the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), and the Centre. With the BLT beginning to hog the limelight, the NDFB felt alienated from the movement for Bodoland, the sources said.

The NDFB professes to be fighting for a “sovereign Bodoland”, while its rival outfit, which had initially demanded a separate state, is now ready to settle for the proposed Bodoland Territorial Council. The new administrative set-up will be formed in accordance with the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

Police sources said what might have made the NDFB change its mind is the series of setbacks in recent times. With Boro and Basumatary in custody, there is a vacuum at the top of the outfit’s hierarchy. Making matters worse for it is the operation by security forces to cut off supply lines to militant camps in Bhutan.

Sikkim police had arrested Boro in Gangtok on January 1 and booked him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which was the first instance of the legislation being employed in that state. Boro had been living in a rented flat at Tadong in the Sikkim capital for a year.

The arrested militant leader was brought to Guwahati last week and produced before the chief judicial magistrate, Kamrup.

The general secretary of the NDFB, too, is in judicial custody here. The special operations unit of Assam police had arrested Basumatary, alias B. Swmkhwr, at Rangiya railway station in Kamrup district on November 26 last year.

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