Amnesty to separatists: Asom Gana Parishad divided

Guwahati, Nov 30 (IANS) Assam's main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is bitterly divided on the issue of granting amnesty to jailed separatists as a party MP Tuesday opposed the proposal made by his colleague.

Former chief minister and senior AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has demanded a 'general amnesty' for all the jailed separatist leaders in Assam.

Mahanta told reporters Monday: 'The government should grant general amnesty to all jailed leaders and also to those who are outside with a view to bringing all of them to the negotiating table.'

On Tuesday, senior AGP leaders rejected Mahanta's proposal, saying such an act would be suicidal.

'If those militant leaders who were involved in the killing of innocent civilians are pardoned and general amnesty granted, it would be an insult to the families who lost their dear ones,' AGP MP in the Lok Sabha Joseph Toppo told journalists Tuesday.

Toppo questioned Mahanta's proposal, saying the jailed rebels should be tried in courts.

'Let the court decide whether the militant leaders were guilty or not and it would be totally unfair on the part of the government to grant general amnesty without proper trial,' Toppo said.

The jailed rebel leaders include chairman of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Arabinda Rajkhowa and chairman of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Ranjan Daimary.

The ULFA chief was accused of mass murder - related to killing of 14 people during a bombing at an Independence Day parade function in 2005, in Dhemaji town.

The NDFB chairman was charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation as the main accused in the Oct 30, 2008 serial bombings in Guwahati in which about 100 people lost their lives and more than 500 were injured.

'We want those involved in the killings to be punished. They should not be allowed to go scot free in the name of holding peace talks,' said a senior Congress leader who refused to be named.