Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday ruled out general amnesty for members of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) despite an atmosphere of talks.
But, he said, his government was not averse to ensuring ‘safe passage’ for elusive ULFA activists during the mid January Magh Bihu and the mid April Bohag Bihu festivals.
“The question of general amnesty does not arise,” Gogoi said, indicating that members of the outfit would have to go through the legal process for acts of violence.
The chief minister, back from New Delhi after discussing the pros and cons of a unilateral ceasefire plea from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland with the MHA, insisted peace talks with ULFA would start soon. “(ULFA military chief) Paresh Barua is welcome but the process won’t stop because of his absence,” he said.
Gogoi also termed the ULFA's appeal to Barua to remain elusive and keep the option of returning to guerrilla warfare open, as “its own problem”.
The ethnic clashes between Garo and Rabha tribal people in areas straddling the Assam-Meghalaya border have displaced 34,412 persons, including 18,085 from Meghalaya. The displaced people are staying in 37 relief camps the Assam government has set up in western Assam.
“The official death toll is nine, five on the Assam side and four on the Meghalaya said,” Gogoi said, adding 120 people injured in the clashes were undergoing treatment in government hospitals.
“We have set up a joint monitoring cell with the Meghalaya government. We have also set up a special investigating team, whose role now is to restore peace and go into the reasons behind the clashes later. However, we are trying to find out if Meghalaya based militant outfits are involved,” the chief minister said.
Alleged US Assets
The chief minister’s wife Dolly Gogoi would be filing a criminal case against RTI activist Akhil Gogoi for “resorting to falsehood” in claiming she owned an expensive house in the US. “American laws are such that my wife would be in trouble for acquiring immovable assets,” he said.
Other than the criminal case by his wife, chief minister Gogoi said he has consulted the Assam Police chief for lodging an FIR against Akhil Gogoi besides slapping a civil case against him.