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Since 1st March, 1999
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Handover gains momentum
- More rebels and arms in Assam custody

Tezpur/Guwahati, Dec. 27: The Ulfa and the NDFB reeled under further setbacks today with 51 militants captured by the Royal Bhutan Army being handed over to the police in Nalbari and Darrang districts. There were reports that all Ulfa, KLO, and NDFB camps in Bhutan have been razed to the ground.

Of the 51 rebels, 32 were handed over at Tamulpur in Nalbari district and the remaining 19 at Mangaldoi in Darrang district. Sources said another batch of nearly 30 Ulfa and NDFB rebels is likely to handed over by the RBA tomorrow.

In Mangaldoi, the army also handed over 18 AK-56 rifles with bayonets, one AK-56 without bayonet, 1,140 live rounds of AK-56, 38 magazines of AK-56 rifles, three Claymore mine, Rs 67,602 in Indian currency and Rs 50,000 in fake currency and two Kenwood radio sets.

In neighbouring Sonitpur district, the army handed over Ulfa ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain to the police. Buragohain, who was rumoured to have been killed over a week ago in the operations launched by the Royal Bhutan Army on December 15, was produced before the media at a function organised by the 4 Corps headquarters in Tezpur yesterday.

State home commissioner B.K. Gohain said Buragohain and three other Ulfa rebels would be produced before the Sonitpur chief judicial magistrate tomorrow. Gohain also said the army had lodged an FIR with the police and handed over three AK-56 rifles, a satellite phone and Rs 2 lakh in cash.

Sources quoting RBA officials today said all 30 camps belonging to the Ulfa, the NDFB and the KLO have been demolished. The home commissioner clarified that all those who had been handed over by the Bhutan authorities would have to be treated as “apprehended” and due legal action would be initiated against them.

“The general amnesty is for only those militants who contact either the police or the army or the civil authorities expressing their willingness to surrender and not for those are handed over by the Bhutan army after they were apprehended during the ongoing operation,” he added.

Joining the clamour for talks in the wake of the RBA operations, the Assam CPM today urged the Centre and the outfit to initiate talks. It said the problem cannot be resolved through army operations.

CPM secretary Hemen Das said, “Political dialogue is a must for any kind of solution. The United Front government under H.D. Deve Gowda had offered unconditional talks but they were spurned by the outfit. The party, however, appeals to both the governments and the outfit to hold talks unconditionally in the greater interest.”

Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, on the other hand, told a gathering of party workers at Jagiroad off Guwahati that the production of Buragohain and his statement to the media yesterday have only exposed the lies spread by the outfit. Mahanta added that he had repeatedly asked the Ulfa leadership to sit for talks but to no avail.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today spoke to Bhutanese King Jigme Singhye Wangchuk over phone and congratulated him on the Royal Bhutan Army’s success in the ongoing operations to dislodge the insurgents.

He also conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families of the soldiers who lost their lives in the operations, official sources told PTI in New Delhi.

India has been providing only logistic support to Bhutan, including evacuation of its injured army personnel in Operation All Clear.

Thimpu-Dhaka flights suspended: Bhutan has temporarily suspended flight between Thimpu and Dhaka in view of the presence of Ulfa militants in Bangladesh. A Bhutanese official told PTI over phone from Samdrup Jongkhar that the flight had been suspended to prevent exit of militants fleeing from the camps demolished in Bhutan.

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