'First to think of a political resolution of Assam conflict' | india | Hindustan Times
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'First to think of a political resolution of Assam conflict'

Legendary poet, singer and composer and Assam's wandering minstrel Bhupen Hazarika, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 85, was the first person to think in terms of a political resolution of the insurgency situation in Assam. Sanjib Kr Baruah reports.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2011 02:08 IST
Sanjib Kr Baruah

Legendary poet, singer and composer and Assam's wandering minstrel Bhupen Hazarika, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 85, was the first person to think in terms of a political resolution of the insurgency situation in Assam.

"The United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) was in constant touch with Dr Hazarika for quite some time in the nineties. The idea of a political resolution of the Assam-India conflict first germinated in our conversations with him sometime in 1995-96. Then we met at London where he said only a political resolution was possible," Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa told HT of Hazarika, who, arguably was the first person to put Assam on the national radar in the artistic field.

"At that time he was the chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. He told us that virtue of holding a public post, he moved around in government circles and it was much easier for him than many to facilitate a process that would strive for a political resolution."

"That is so typical of Bhupen mama. Assam was very close to him, yet he had that rare international spirit," said Rishiraj Sarma, nephew of the departed doyen.

Interestingly, in a symbolic depiction of the kind of respect that Hazarika held, on August 4, northeastern insurgents from Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, had assembled at a ULFA training camp at Taga, near the Sino-Myanmar border, at a prayer meeting wishing a rapid recovery of the ailing maestro.

Significantly, the prayer meeting was led by SS Khaplang, chairman of NSCN(K) faction. Both Khaplang and Paresh Barua, Ulfa commander-in-chief, even fasted for a day, an e-mail sent by the Ulfa had said.

Barua continues to hold out of a negotiation process with the government.