Intelligence inputs claim that United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) military chief Paresh Barua has planned a series of major strikes with help from the Manipur-based People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Maoists, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said.
Barua leads some 200 ULFA hardliners unwilling to talk truce with New Delhi despite most leaders and cadres of the banned outfit standing by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa to tread the peace path.
“Intelligence inputs have revealed Paresh Baruah is planning terror attacks across Assam with help from PLA, Maoists and some other extremist groups of the Northeast,” Gogoi said Friday afternoon. “But we are determined to foil his designs.”
Gogoi criticized Baruah for carrying on with armed rebellion when most of his colleagues have decided to give peace a chance. “We hope he sees the writings on the wall and shuns violence. He should feel the pulse of the people who want peace,” he said.
The Assam government believes Baruah is operating from the China-Myanmar border. “He is holed up in northern Myanmar but keeps moving around. A number of extremist groups of the Northeast have their bases in that region too,” Gogoi said.
The ULFA used to operate from the jungles of southern Bhutan until an Indo-Bhutanese joint military offensive in December 2003. The outfit subsequently strengthened its bases in adjoining Bangladesh but the return of Sheikh Hasina to power and a crackdown on Northeast militants saw the Barua and his men shifting to northern Myanmar.
According to Gogoi, peace discussions between the Centre and the pro-talks Ulfa leaders were imminent following a green signal from New Delhi. “The talks will be held directly between the two parties,” he said. “The Ulfa is expected to submit its charter of demands in the first round of talks. The government would then weigh the demands.”
The peace process between New Delhi and ULFA-appointed People’s Consultative Group had earlier hit a roadblock apparently after the government refused to discuss all core issues. The issue of Assam’s sovereignty is one of Ulfa’s most contentious demands.