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'Government trying to derail peace process'

The ULFA says the arrest of the PCG member is nothing but an attempt to stall any move for the revival of the peace process.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Guwahati
UPDATED ON FEB 13, 2008 11:54 AM IST

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has termed the arrest of Assamese rights leader Lachit Bordoloi on charges of alleged links with the outfit as an attempt by the government to derail the peace process.

Bordoloi, a member of the ULFA-chosen People's Consultative Group (PCG), was arrested on Monday under the Explosives Substance Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for allegedly aiding and abetting terrorism.

A Guwahati court on Tuesday remanded Bordoloi and Air Deccan executive Sumanta Dutta to five days in police custody - both arrested for helping the ULFA in an alleged plot to hijack an aircraft. The duo denied the charges - the ULFA too rejected police allegations of any hijacking plot.

"When the PCG was constituted in 2005, we gave in writing the names of the members that we have entrusted to liaise with the government for exploring possibilities of peace talks. Under the circumstances, it is not a crime if any PCG member was in touch with us," ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said in a statement.

The ULFA said the arrest of the PCG member was nothing but an attempt to stall any move for the revival of the peace process. The PCG had held three rounds of peace talks, including a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The peace initiative collapsed in September 2006 after a six-week ceasefire between the ULFA and New Delhi was called off by the central government that blamed the outfit of indulging in violence and stepping up extortions.

"The PCG was trying to take the deadlocked peace process forward and the arrest of Bordoloi is nothing but an attempt by the government to scuttle any peace move," the ULFA statement said.

A well-known Guwahati-based lawyer, Nekibur Zaman, was also put under the police scanner and was questioned by a special six-member Intelligence Bureau team from New Delhi at a city hospital where he is currently admitted with a fractured leg.

The series of police actions follows confessional statement by Monoj Tamuly, an ULFA militant arrested Saturday from near Guwahati.

The arrested ULFA rebel apparently disclosed during police interrogation about plans by the outfit to hijack a plane for which cadres received specialised 18-day training somewhere in western Assam about six months ago from an ISI operative.

"The plan to hijack a plane was hatched and we also met in New Delhi with some of our top leaders to discuss this (hijacking plan) on November 14 last year," Tamuly told IANS Sunday while being brought to court in Guwahati.

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