Haroon Habib

23 persons were killed and more than 200 injured in the attack in August 2004

  • ULFA spokesperson dismisses report as nonsense
  • Awami League leader alleges conspiracy behind disclosure

    DHAKA: A "commander" of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has reportedly admitted that his group attacked a rally of the Awami League on August 21, 2004, killing many party leaders and activists.

    Quoting "a senior police officer" in Guwahati, private news agency bdnews24.com said Pallav Saikia, arrested in Shillong on December 14, 2006, told the Assam Police Special Branch during interrogation that 11 ULFA fighters led by him lobbed grenades and fired assault rifles into the then Opposition party's anti-terrorism rally. A total of 23 leaders and activists were killed in the attack and more than 200 badly injured. Party chief Sheikh Hasina had a miraculous escape.

    However, Awami League presidium member Zillur Rahman, who lost his wife, Ivy Rahman, in the attack, said the report was "absurd." "Why should the ULFA try to kill us? There may be a conspiracy behind such a disclosure," the elderly leader said.

    Quoting Assam Police Special Branch chief Khagen Sarmah, bdnews24.com reported that Saikia confessed they attacked the rally at the "explicit instruction" of ULFA military wing chief Paresh Barua. "Some Bangladesh intelligence officials helped us plan the assault and even gave us the vehicles for the assault that morning, but I don't know these Bangladeshis," Saikia said.

    Meanwhile, the ULFA has rejected the confession. ULFA spokesperson Ruby Bhuyan was quoted by a news agency as saying, "Pallav Saika is either saying all this nonsense under pressure or he has been bought over and forced to say all this." Bangladesh daily Prothom Alo reported from New Delhi that Mr. Sarmah had denied giving any such information to the news agency.