The Assam government will have no objection in allowing jailed ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa to visit his ailing 90-year-old mother, especially with people celebrating Assamese New Year or Bohag Bihu, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Wednesday.
"I received a written appeal from Rajkhowa’s family to allow him to see his old mother during Bihu. We have absolutely no problems in allowing the ULFA chairman to go and meet his mother. But since he is in judicial custody, it depends on the court,” Gogoi told IANS.
Rajkhowa, arrested in December last year, is in Guwahati jail. His mother Damayanti Rajkonwar is critically ill at their ancestral home in Lakwa in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district, about 380 km from here.
Rajkhowa’s wife Kaveri and their two children have been let off and now live at Lakwa.
The chief minister went a step further and said the government would have no objection in allowing even other jailed leaders to visit their families during Bihu beginning Thursday.
"We want peace and on the eve of Bihu I am extending my best wishes and greetings to even Paresh Baruah (the elusive ULFA commander-in-chief). Let all of them realise the futility of an armed struggle and see how we all are celebrating Bihu with our families," Gogoi said.
That the chief minister was offering an olive branch was evident from his tone.
"We are ready to allow all other cadres and leaders in jail to visit their families, but it all depends on the court," Gogoi said.
"Either the ULFA leaders on their own could pray before the court to allow them visit their families on compassionate grounds or members of their families could appeal before the court," senior advocate Nakib-uz-Zaman said.
“It is heartening to know that the government has no objection in allowing Rajkhowa to visit his mother. But a formal prayer can be made before the court maybe by next week after the Bihu holidays,” added rights activist Lachit Bordoloi.