The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stung AASU strikes back

Guwahati, Jan. 18: Harking back to its “revolutionary” past, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) today asked the outlawed Ulfa to stop making “irresponsible remarks” that belittle the mass movement against illegal migration from Bangladesh.

Samujjal Bhattacharyya, adviser to the state’s apex student organisation, said Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua had perhaps “forgotten our revolutionary history” after spending many years in Bangladesh.

The militant leader had recently branded the AASU an “agent” of the state machinery. He said the organisation’s campaign against “Muslim migrants” from Bangladesh smacked of communalism.

Barua had also challenged the AASU to extract a written assurance from Delhi to hold talks with Ulfa on the subject of “sovereignty”.

Bhattacharyya said AASU had always been known for its secular character and did not require Ulfa’s endorsement. He dismissed the militant group’s campaign for a “sovereign” Assam as one that did not match the student organisation’s philosophy.

“There is no question of the AASU taking the initiative, as Barua has challenged, to get the Centre to agree to talks with Ulfa on the issue of sovereignty. There is no need for us to take any such initiative because our organisation does not subscribe to this view,” Bhattacharyya said.

The AASU adviser clarified that not agreeing with Ulfa on some issues did not imply that the student organisation would not support a dialogue for peace. “Despite differences of opinion (with the militant leadership), the AASU and the Asom Unnati Sabha had met Union home minister Shivraj Patil to demand unconditional talks with Ulfa. Our stand is very clear. We want unconditional talks between the two sides and decisive steps should be taken,” he said.

On Ulfa’s recent hate campaign against Hindi-speaking people, Bhattacharyya said “no right-thinking individual or organisation” would support a massacre of innocents.

The AASU also asked why the outfit had never taken a stand against the ISI’s support to influx into Assam from Bangladesh.

In an oblique reference to allegations of Ulfa being controlled by “foreign powers”, the student organisation said time would tell whether Barua had all along been guided by his “free will”.

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