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Let the Games begin: Assam urges ULFA

December 15, 2006 16:37 IST
Assam assembly on Friday made an appeal to the proscribed United Liberation Front of Assam to withdraw its call to the sports persons to stay away from the 33rd National Games to be held in Guwahati from February 9 to 18, 2007.

A resolution moved by the Congress-led ruling coalition and supported by members from all other political parties termed ULFA's boycott call against the National Games 'very unfortunate,' and urged the militant group to consider withdrawing the same in the interest of sports and prestige of the people of the state.

The resolution noted that Assam had faced very tough competition in bidding for hosting the 33rd National Games in the state and the state government was very keen to hold the event as it would provide the state with an opportunity to build some world-class sports infrastructure as preparation for the Games.

Moving the resolution in the House during Zero Hour, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bharat Chandra Narah stated that the National Games had facilitated construction of several world-class sports infrastructure for the future generation of sportsmen in the state besides providing an opportunity to the people of Assam to be under the limelight as host to the most prestigious sports event of the country.

The ULFA had called upon sportsmen to stay away from the Games for their own safety while opposing holding of the event in the state without a final solution to "Assam-India" political conflict.

The ULFA threat to the sports event drew flak from several quarters in the state, including the All Assam Students' Union and Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad. The criticism apparently had an impact on the banned militant group, which later said it will extend cooperation to holding the Games provided it was renamed as "Assam Sports Festival" and called upon the state government to change the name of the Games.

However, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Sports Minister Pradyut Bardoloi later clarified that it was impossible to change the name of the Games and vowed to hold the event smoothly and peacefully notwithstanding the threat from the ULFA militants.
K Anurag in Guwahati