The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assam gets unexpected Bodo catch
- Thai police hand over top NDFB leader to Dispur

Guwahati, July 31: Dispur is trying to open a channel for talks with the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) after it got hold of a top leader of the banned outfit unexpectedly.

Though the state government has maintained a studied silence with both the police and home department refusing to confirm or deny any such development, Intelligence sources said NDFB deputy commander-in-chief Bijoy Boro was arrested in Bangkok last week by the Thai authorities. Interpol mediated in his deportation to Delhi, which passed him on to Dispur later, the sources said.

Boro was being interrogated at undisclosed locations in and around the city, the sources added.

A former rebel leader in the Bodoland Territorial Council — keeping track of the developments — said “a top NDFB rebel has indeed been brought in”.

Inspector-general of police (special branch) Khagen Sharma denied any knowledge about the arrest, which, in fact, lent credence to the notion that the NDFB leader might have turned himself in after falling out with the outfit’s top leader Ranjan Daimary. Home commissioner B.K. Gohain also refused to say anything on the subject.

Intelligence sources further said Dispur was now trying to use the “prized catch” to persuade the NDBF top brass to hold peace talks. The banned outfit has been hit hard by the arrest of several top-ranking leaders in the past couple of years and the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council. The outfit is waging a war for an “independent homeland” for the Bodos.

NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary, alias D.R. Nabla, who is suspected to be taking shelter in Bangladesh, is unlikely to come to the negotiating table till the Ulfa does so. But Boro’s influence can be used to convince an influential section of the NDFB leadership to understand the futility of its violent movement, the sources observed.

The sources said the “arrest” of the leader has left Daimary almost alone as several of his top lieutenants are in police custody for the past couple of years.

NDFB general secretary B. Swmkhwr alias Gobinda Basumatary was arrested by Assam police from Rangiya railway station in 2002, while the outfit’s vice-president Dhiren Boro was nabbed in Gangtok in 2003, followed by the arrest of its finance secretary Nileswar Basumatary at Dimapur this year.

The outfit’s publicity secretary B. Erakdao had gone missing during the Operation All Clear launched by the Royal Bhutan Army last year.

Incarcerated general secretary of the outfit Govinda Basumatary — at present lodged in Guwahati jail — had expressed the NDFB’s willingness for talks provided Delhi initiate “confidence-building” measures before it. Basumatary had said, “Firstly Delhi must create an atmosphere of mutual trust for a peace process to get under way.”

He, however, had said a “sovereign Bodoland” continued to be their main demand.

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