Special Correspondent

Fernandes meets militant leaders in jail

  • Two injured in blast near Assembly
  • "ULFA keen on resolving issue through dialogue"

    GUWAHATI: Jailed leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) on Tuesday told the former Defence Minister, George Fernandes, that the outfit was not involved in the massacre of Biharis.

    It alleged that the Assam Government had a hand in the killings even as the militant outfit struck in the city triggering a powerful explosion in front of the main entrance of the Assembly at Dispur.

    Mr. Fernandes told reporters that the ULFA leaders requested him to convey to the Prime Minister or any other Central leader and also tell the people that the outfit was keen on resolving the problem through dialogue. He said that he had assured them that he would convey the message.

    The blast in the morning left two persons injured. The Dispur police station is located adjacent to the Assembly gate.

    Although no fresh attacks on Biharis were reported from any part of the State the police resorted to lathicharge to disperse a crowd in Tinsukia when curfew was relaxed for two hours. The exodus of Bihari and other Hindi-speaking people from upper Assam as well as other parts of the State continued and trains bound for Bihar had many such passengers.

    Mr. Fernandes said the ULFA leaders had requested him to convey their displeasure over the attitude of the Centre toward the outfit.

    "They [jailed ULFA leaders] alleged that the State Government has a hand in the killings. Such killings are carried out by the Government to cover up scams... similar killings had taken place in the State in the past," he said. He met ULFA vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi, Adviser Bhimkanta Bragohain, Captain Ramu Mech and Cultural Secretary Pranati Deka.

    Mr. Fernandes said the outfit was very angry over the attitude of the Centre toward negotiation. "They [the ULFA leaders] alleged that the Government invite them for discussion and discontinue dialogue process half way. The Government also does not care to respect them, which also made them very angry."

    Rajnath's demand

    Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, during his visit to the violence-hit areas of Tinsukia district, told reporters that only imposition of President's Rule would not help, all militant-infested areas should be handed over to the Army.

    Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, during his visit to the trouble-torn upper Assam districts, said his Government suspected that the ULFA had been carrying out the killings on the instruction of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. He told reporters in Tinsukia that Army patrolling in the two districts would be intensified. The Centre had rushed 20 additional companies of paramilitary forces and more forces were expected.