The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More blasts rock Assam, Ulfa denies hand

June 10: Six more explosions ripped through Assam today, killing one person and injuring over 20. These came less than 24 hours after a blast in a Guwahati market left five dead and 20 injured.

Two of the explosions occurred in Guwahati and another damaged an Oil India Limited installation at Makum in Tinsukia. But the reverberations will be felt as far away as in New Delhi, since they will dent confidence in the peace process with the Ulfa.

A rattled Dispur has convened a meeting of the Unified Command, which plans and executes counter-insurgency operations in Assam, on Monday. Officer on special duty to the chief minister, Debojit Das, said Tarun Gogoi would hold a high-level meeting after reaching Guwahati on Monday. Gogoi, who is abroad, has been in constant touch with his office and several ministers, he added.

Ulfa “commander-in-chief” Paresh Barua has denied the outfit’s hand in the series of blasts that rocked the state yesterday. In a statement today, Barua accused vested interests of masterminding the blasts to derail the peace process and defame the outfit. He pointed to the fact that the blasts had started occurring just before the parleys between the Centre and the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) on June 22.

The Ulfa-constituted PCG, too, issued a communiqu' condemning the deaths in yesterday’s Machkhowa blast. “In the interest of restoration of permanent peace and the success of the ongoing peace process, the PCG appeals to all concerned to restrain themselves from such acts,” PCG spokesman Arup Borbora said.

In Calcutta, defence minister Pranab Mukherjee said he was unaware that the Ulfa had set any preconditions for holding talks with the Centre.

Asked whether the Ulfa had sought the release of five jailed leaders before opening a dialogue with Delhi, Mukherjee said: “I am not aware of any such precondition. As far as I know, talks are scheduled for June 22.”

Today’s sordid sequence of blasts started with a grenade being hurled at a CRPF camp near Ranghar Charali in Sivasagar at 4.30 pm, injuring three jawans. After this, an explosive device went off behind Sivasagar circuit house and another at Kunwarpur in the heart of the town. No one was injured. At 7.25 pm, a bomb blasted OIL’s Makum oil collecting station. Another blast occurred near an oil well of the company at Dighalia in Dibrugarh district at around 11.30 pm.

In Guwahati, a grenade was hurled at a Railway Protection Force camp at Bamunimaidam at 7.15 pm, injuring three jawans. Around 8 pm, another grenade was hurled from over the Ganeshguri flyover, killing a civilian, identified as Dhani Talukdar, and injuring 17 others. City additional superintendent of police Rajen Singh said 20 persons were injured and one killed in Guwahati.

Police recovered a bomb planted near the Kamrup SP’s office at 8.15 pm. Musical extravaganza Debojit nite, scheduled for this evening, was cancelled in memory of yesterday’s blast victims.

The army also arrested two militants from Chabua in Dibrugarh district at 2.30 am today. A hand grenade was seized from them. Security forces have sounded a red alert in entire Upper Assam. Riding pillion on two-wheelers has been banned in all districts.

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