Jeevan Singha, the self-styled chief of Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) — a banned terror outfit — came up with a video statement on Monday ahead of Republic Day on the issue of socio-economic development of the Rajbanshi community.
This is the first time this year that the KLO chief, suspected to be staying in Myanmar, has issued a statement on the community.
“The nation will celebrate Republic Day and people in different states like Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu will join the celebrations. This is because over the years, their socio-economic conditions have improved. But as far as the Koch-Rajbanshis are concerned, they have been deprived for years, particularly after the merger treaty (of 1949, when the princely state of Cooch Behar merged with India),” the KLO leader said.
Time and again, many organisations of the Rajbanshis, including the KLO, have underscored that according to the merger, Cooch Behar was supposed to be a “C” category state or a Union territory but got reduced to a district of Bengal.
Singha’s statement comes at a time when several former KLO leaders in Bengal and Assam and representatives of Rajbanshi outfits are in contact with Assam over a possible peace pact with the outfit.
In December last year, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that the KLO leadership is interested in peace talks and that his government would reciprocate it.
Since Sunday, a number of former militants, including Sumitra Das and Dhananjoy Barman, Singha’s sister and brother-in-law who stay in Kumargram of Alipurduar, as well as some former KLO militants from Bengal and Assam are discussing among themselves in Guwahati on the prospective terms of peace talks with the Assam government and the Centre.
“Participants from Bengal want the Bengal government to be included in the talks as several charges, including under the UAPA, are pending against Singha and his aides. Thoin Assam, however, want negotiations to start with the Assam government and the Centre and include the Bengal government in due course,” said a source.
Political observers in north Bengal said Singha’s statements ahead of Republic Day indicate his bid to put pressure on the state government by flagging the alleged deprivation of the Rajbanshis.
Earlier, Singha had hinted he wanted opinions from outfits and political parties of the Rajbanshis in Bengal and Assam. “Let’s see what happens next as the Bengal government has not been included in the talks yet,” said an observer.