Will not be cowed down by ULFA threats: GogoiBy IANS
Sunday, February 20, 2011
GUWAHATI - Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Sunday the ruling Congress would never be cowed down to threats by hardliners of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) of attacks on leaders and workers in the run-up to the assembly elections.
“Threats to our leaders and workers by the ULFA is nothing new and let me make it very clear that we shall never be cowed down by such threats of attacks on our lives,” the chief minister told journalists.
The anti-talks faction of the ULFA Saturday in an emailed statement threatened to attack Congress leaders and warned people against participating in party rallies in the run up to the assembly elections.
“In almost every election the ULFA threatened us and even called the people of Assam to reject the Congress party during elections. But, despite such threats and appeals by the ULFA, the people of Assam rejected their call and voted us to power twice since 2001,” the chief minister said.
The ULFA in the past has killed at least a dozen Congress leaders during elections beginning the 1996 assembly polls.
“Instead of issuing threats, I would appeal to the elusive ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah to come and join the peace process and be part of the mainstream,” Assam government spokesperson and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
“But the fact of the matter remains, we are not scared of any ULFA threats as we know the people of Assam are with us.”
The ULFA statement said the Congress party was responsible for dividing the outfit - luring some leaders into holding peace talks with the government.
The first round of ULFA-government peace talks was held Feb 10 in New Delhi with the process being led by the outfit’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.
That the ULFA is vertically split was evident with Paresh Baruah terming the peace talks as “unconstitutional” given the fact that Rajkhowa and other seven top leaders were being surrounded by “Indian forces” - meaning the talks were being held under pressure from New Delhi.
But the pro-talk ULFA leadership led by Arabinda Rajkhowa has gone on record saying the decision to hold talks with the government had the sanction and approval of the ULFA general council.