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Assam students' body slams ULFA

August 22, 2004 21:02 IST

After years of going soft on the banned United Liberation Front of Asom, the once influential All Assam Students' Union on Sunday questioned the militant outfit about its motives and the support that its leadership gets from Bangladesh.

"Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and ULFA c-in-c Paresh Baruah have soft corner for Bangladeshis. Gogoi needs them to remain in power and ULFA safeguards them to have a safe harbour in Bangladesh," said Samujjal Bhattacharya, adviser, AASU, in Guwahati.

"If ULFA really loves Assam then they should prove it by standing up against the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh," he added.

The remark came after the AASU, which had led a six year long agitation in the early 1980s against the illegal migrants from Bangladesh, was accused by Baruah of being responsible for the 1983 Nellie and Gohpur massacres in which at least 3,000 immigrant Muslims died.

Baruah had said a couple of days ago that the AASU had no moral right to question ULFA's method in attacking an Independence Day function in which 20 people, mostly women and children were killed.

The AASU leadership said that before making such remarks, Baruah should go through the history of the Assam agitation.

Prabin Boro, president, AASU, said, "Both the incidents were part of the mass movement and carried out by participants of the movement. How can Baruah say that AASU was responsible for the massacres?"

"Moreover, Baruah has no right to question our moral rights. AASU will stand up against any atrocities against the people of Assam, whether by government or by ULFA," he added.

"The ULFA chief should remember that we also protested against the killing of women and children during the Bhutan operation."

Baruah and several of ULFA's top leaders are based in Bangladesh for the past decade.

"We neither support the demand of independent Assam nor do we support an armed struggle. We seek a political solution to the ULFA-government conflict," he added.

The AASU leadership also came down strongly on Gogoi.

"We again reiterate our demand for his resignation. In spite of prior intelligence report about subversive activities in the state during I-Day celebrations, he failed to take any appropriate action. Death of innocent children during a government I-Day function is similar to custodial deaths," said Bhattacharya.

G Vinayak in Guwahati