Assam Peace Process in Progress

Assam government has claimed that 19 commanders of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) came on their own from Bangladesh to join the peace process and are now sheltered at an unidentified location in the state.

Reports suggested that the rebel commanders, led by Anu Buragohain, Bhaiti Baruah, Biju Deka, and Pradyut Buragohain, gave themselves up before Bangladeshi authorities Wednesday. They were arrested on technical grounds and then handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) somewhere along the border with Meghalaya Saturday.

Assam Chief Minister has meanwhile claimed that the rebel leaders are very much in Assam and are not arrested as they came on their own from Bangladesh to join the peace process. Chief Minister also termed the developments as a very good sign that more and more ULFA leaders are realising the futility of an armed struggle and deciding to come and join the peace process.

Earlier reports said 19 ULFA leaders and nine of their family members arrived in Assam Saturday and were in the Assam Police custody.

Meanwhile, self-styled ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah termed the development as a betrayal by some of the senior leaders.
In an emailed statement to Press,the ULFA commander-in-chief said some of ULFA cadres with their family members fled the camp with the help of Indian intelligence agencies and also with the active support of two senior jailed leaders and are now taking shelter in the enemy camp,"
A police official said: "There is no question of the ULFA members being produced before the court as technically they were not arrested as they came on their own."

It may be recalled that Dhaka has last year launched a massive crackdown against the ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and got several of their top leaders arrested and later handed them over to India. Among those arrested in last year's crackdown include ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, and finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika. NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary was also arrested in May and later handed over to India.