Guwahati, Dec. 1: The outlawed Ulfa today asked Dispur to rechristen the 33rd National Games as “Assam Sports Festival” if it wanted the jinxed event to go ahead as planned.
The militant group tried to explain its opposition to the Games, which has already been postponed twice, and justify the condition it has set through a lengthy editorial in the latest issue of its bulletin Swadhinata. A soft copy of the bulletin was emailed to newspaper houses this evening.
The outfit dared chief minister Tarun Gogoi and sports minister Pradyut Bordoloi to show their “love for Assam” by changing the nomenclature of the Games. It offered to co-operate in hosting the event if its name was changed to the Assam Sports Festival.
Ulfa’s call for a boycott of the Games, to be held in Assam for the first time, had evoked strong reactions from the sports fraternity and various organisations.
The militant group said it was not opposed to the idea of hosting a sporting event of such magnitude in Assam but averse to “imposition of the Indian National Games that reeks of the imperialist attitude of Delhi”.
The bombastic statement was suitably illustrated. “Those who are claiming that the National Games have led to the construction of a high-quality stadium in Guwahati should remember that even one part of the value of natural resources exploited by Delhi from Assam since 1947 would be enough to build four stadia in four corners of Assam,” Ulfa said.
The bulletin also mentioned that Ulfa had never opposed any sports event in Assam before. “Using sports for dirty political games is what we are opposed to.”
Ulfa’s original statement on boycotting the Games had prompted the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to shift two of its meetings from Guwahati to New Delhi for security reasons.
The annual general meeting and executive body meeting of the IOA was scheduled to be held in Guwahati on December 20. It will now be held in the capital.
Sources in the Assam Olympic Association confirmed receiving queries from “anxious” sports associations of other states on Ulfa’s threat to disrupt the Games.
Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa had said his outfit respected sports and sportspersons, but could not tolerate Delhi’s attempt to “forcibly” hold the Games in the state without resolving the “Indo-Assam” conflict. He said it was an injustice to the “freedom-loving” people of Assam.
The militant leader said Ulfa would try to foil the “nefarious designs” of the government.