United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and the outfit’s self-styled Deputy Commander-in-Chief Raju Barua, who were arrested and brought here, on Saturday denied that they had surrendered as claimed by the government. Responding to journalists’ questions at the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court premise here, Mr. Rajkhowa said there could be no peace talks with handcuffs on.
The two top ULFA leaders, along with the outfit’s self-styled sergeant, Raja Bora, were brought to the court around 5.30 p.m. with handcuffs on under heavy escort and produced before the CJM, Robin Phukan.
Mr. Rajkhowa alleged that the ULFA wanted to enter into a dialogue, but the government did not allow it to happen. “We should have worn the garland of victory and come, but we have come with handcuffs on …You are humiliating those leaders by asking whether they have surrendered.”
Immediately after disembarking from the bus in which they were brought to the CJM court for production, Mr. Rajkhowa and Mr. Barua, who is also the military spokesman of the outfit, shouted to the waiting journalists: “We have not surrendered. We will never do so.”
Security forces tried their best to prevent the television crew and other journalists from getting near the arrested ULFA leaders for more sound bytes and whisked them away through a barricade created by heavily armed security personnel inside the court building.
Mr. Rajkhowa asked his elder brother, Ajay Rajkonwar, inside the court building to convey to the people of Assam that he was not in favour of peace talks minus the claim for sovereignty.
“One should not talk about peace talks with handcuffs on. One must be freed. There must be an atmosphere to become free,” Mr. Rajkhowa shouted as he was taken out of the court premises.
The Special Operation Unit (SOU) of the Assam police sought 14 days police custody for the ULFA leaders. However, the court remanded the three ULFA leaders to 12 days police custody, said advocate Bijan Mahajan, counsel appointed by family members of the ULFA leaders.
Earlier in the day, the self-styled commander-in-chief of ULFA, Paresh Barua, in a statement denied any split in the outfit and claimed that Mr. Rajkhowa had not surrendered.
“All leaders and cadres of ULFA are ready to discuss on the issue sovereignty. It is not important whether Paresh Barua comes forward for talks. Discussions on a sovereign, independent Assam is the prime and ultimate concern,” said Mr. Barua in a statement emailed to a section of the local media.