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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

‘Message’ in KLO mediator arrest

On Wednesday night, Malkhan a.k.a. Madhab Mondal was arrested from a village of Siliguri sub-division

Our Correspondent Siliguri Published 22.10.22, 01:01 AM
Representational Image

Representational Image File Photo

The arrest of Malkhan Singh, a former militant of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), by the special task force of Bengal police has triggered reactions within the KLO and its mediators engaged for peace talks.

Senior police officers and political observers, on the other hand, have said that through the arrest, the Bengal government has sent a clear missive to the saffron brigade and to the KLO that it cannot be bypassed if any peace talks are held.

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On Wednesday night, Malkhan a.k.a. Madhab Mondal was arrested from a village of Siliguri sub-division.

Biswajit Roy, who heads a faction of the All Koch Rajbanshi Students’ Union in Assam, said Malkhan, like Roy, is a member of a five-member “mediator” group supposed to represent the KLO for peace talks with the Assam government and the Centre.

“He was coming to Guwahati to attend a meeting of the group. The KLO has shown interest in peace talks. It is unfortunate that the Bengal government arrested him for no reason. But such steps won't jeopardise the talks,” said Roy in a video clip.

Self-styled KLO chief Jeevan Singha, who has time and again raised the demand for statehood while underscoring the Cooch Behar merger agreement of 1949, came up with a new video.

In the video, he slammed the Trinamul government and Mamata Banerjee for not accepting their demand.

“The central government is speaking about everybody's development. Ours is a longstanding demand and we have high hopes that the Centre will accept it. However, Mamata Banerjee has time and again spoken against it. We do not want to be governed by outsiders,” Singha said in the clip.

Political observers said Malkhan’s arrest ratified the stern stand of the Mamata government against the statehood demand.

They said the announcement of Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma last December that the KLO was interested in peace talks had not gone down well with the Bengal government and ruling Trinamul.

The initiative by BJP governments of Assam and the Centre was seen as an attempt to bypass the Bengal government, they said.

“With this arrest, the government has sent a clear message that it does not want any division of the state and that the saffron camp alone can't go ahead and make negotiations with the KLO,” said a retired police officer.

This August, the state government came up with a comprehensive rehabilitation package for members of the outfit.

The initiative has seen some success. Kailash Koch, the self-styled general secretary of the KLO, surrendered before the state police with his wife, also an armed KLO cadre.

“The message is loud and clear. KLO militants should fall in line, surrender before the state and return to the mainstream,” the retired cop added.

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