Anup Chetia , general secretary of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), who was released on bail on Thursday, said that the blast triggered by the outfit during the 2004 Independence Day celebrations at Dhemaji parade ground was a big mistake. Thirteen people, including 10 school children, died in the blast.
The blast also proved to be a turning point for the Ulfa’s fortunes in the state, and it rapidly lost its base in areas that were once its hubs. “When I was in Bangla jail, I heard about the Dhemaji blast. Through different contacts, I tried to know who had done it. I was stunned to know that some of our colleagues were behind the blast. It was a big mistake from the outfit,” said Chetia.
Chetia said that some cadres of the outfit had actually targeted the Central paramilitary force personnel in the parade – the bomb had been planted accordingly. But on the day, instead of the paramilitary forces, the organisers asked school children and their mothers to sit in that particular area.
Tendering an apology on behalf of the outfit, Chetia said that killing innocent people is a heinous crime. “Women and children should not be targeted. Killing of innocent people is a heinous crime. Some of our relatives were also killed in state-sponsored terrorism. They had nothing to do with Ulfa but they were killed brutally,” said Chetia.
On the Ulfa recently targeting Hindi-speaking people in the state, Chetia said, “Many Hindi-speaking people have made enormous contributions to Assam’s culture and economy. It is a wrong decision from the outfit to target innocent people,” he added.
The Ulfa founder-general secretary, who returned to his native village Jeraigaon in Dibrugarh district after almost three decades, was accorded a heroic welcome. After reaching his village, Chetia also addressed a huge crowd. While on the way to Jeraigaon , Chetia was welcomed and garlanded from place to place in upper Assam by Ulfa supporters and sympathisers.