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Assam CM offers amnesty to ULFA, NDFB

Last updated on: December 23, 2003 22:18 IST

Over a week after the Royal Bhutan Army launched a military offensive against three militant outfits holed up in the country's southern jungles, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced that his government would set up help-lines for cadres wishing to surrender.

"They can call up any police station, local MLAs and other responsible people if they want to come overground," Gogoi said.

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The offer comes at a time when cadres of the United Liberation Front of Asom, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, Kamtapur Liberation Organisation are on the run after their camps were destroyed. In desperation, the ULFA and KLO have issued threats to Bhutias living in India, or dealing with Indians, ordering them to immediately quit the Northeast.

Gogoi offered amnesty to those militants surrendering within the next 45 days and special efforts to rehabilitate them.

"I am concerned about the lives of hundreds of young boys from the state who are now stuck in Bhutan. After all, they are our boys and we cannot allow them to get killed," Gogoi told mediapersons in Guwahati on Monday afternoon.

He said the government had specific information that most of the militants stranded in Bhutan were willing to surrender. "We are also asking the Centre to contact the Bhutanese authorities to ensure that the women and children in Bhutan's custody are sent back to Assam safely," he said.

At least 42 ULFA and NDFB cadres who managed to escape from Bhutan since the army offensive began on December 15 have surrendered to security forces in Assam so far. Fourteen others were killed in encounters with security forces in Assam since the operations in Bhutan began.

4 Corps commander Lt Gen Mohinder Singh said the additional troops have been deployed along the Indo-Bhutan border to apprehend militants fleeing from the Royal Bhutan Army.
Lt Gen Singh said it was the lower level cadres who have been bearing the brunt of the Bhutanese operations as the top leaders have either escaped or taken refuge in other countries. "The lower level cadres are today totally cut off from the top leaders," he said.

G Vinayak in Guwahati