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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

KLO word to Himanta Biswa Sarma ruffles Bengal

Banned terror outfit has reportedly sent an audio message addressed to Assam CM requesting him to sit for peace talks

Our Correspondent Siliguri Published 01.08.22, 12:40 AM
Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Himanta Biswa Sarma. File photo

Jeevan Singha, the self-styled chief of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), a banned terror outfit, has reportedly sent an audio message addressed to Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, requesting him to sit for peace talks with a team of mediators representing the outfit.

The clip, which surfaced on social media recently, sent ripples across Bengal. Many are questioning how peace talks with the KLO, which mushroomed in Alipurduar district in 1993, can be effective without including Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

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In his message, Singha thanked Biswa Sarma for the latter’s positive stand on peace talks. “At the same time, I would like to request you to continue the peace process,” the KLO leader said, naming five persons, including three former militants of his outfit, who would be his mediators.

“I shall be highly obliged if you kindly sit with them as soon as possible,” Singha told the Assam chief minister and BJP leader.

The five named are Harshabardhan Barman of Alipurduar district, a former vice-president of the KLO who was arrested during Operation All Clear in Bhutan in 2003, Tom Adhikari a.k.a. Joydeb Roy, another former militant from Dhupguri of Jalpaiguri, Malkhan Singh a.k.a Madhab Mondal, also a former militant from Malda, Biswajit Roy, who heads a faction of the All Koch Rajbanshi Students’ Union in Assam, and Debajit Singha, known to have links with the KLO chief, and from Assam.

The KLO wants a separate Kamtapur state with north Bengal districts and some contiguous areas of Assam.

That the KLO leadership is interested in peace talks and intends to return to the mainstream surfaced in December last year through a tweet of Biswa Sarma.

“In continuation with (the) Govt of India’s efforts to bring lasting peace in the region, I welcome the desire of KLO leadership to join mainstream at an early date to resolve all issues through political dialogues. (The) Govt of Assam would fully reciprocate this goodwill measure. @ Amit Shah,” he had tweeted.

The tweet had prompted Trinamul leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, to react. At an administrative meeting, Mamata had made it clear that her government was in no mood to sit for talks with the KLO. She said that the state government and her party are against any further partition of Bengal.

A senior police officer, who had worked in this region when a number of terror attacks allegedly led by the KLO were reported in north Bengal in the past, said any peace talk without involving the Bengal government would hardly yield any substantial result.

“Jeevan Singha has serious charges like the UAPA against him in Bengal. Also, the KLO’s principal demand is statehood comprising a vast area of Bengal. If the Bengal government is not included in the talks, how can there be any solution to it?” he said.

Trinamul leaders, who had in the recent past accused the BJP of instigating the KLO to foment tension in north Bengal, said there would be protests if any such talks are held without the Bengal government.

“We also want them to return to the mainstream but there should be adequate representation of the Bengal government in the talks,” said a senior party functionary in Cooch Behar.

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