PM Singh Visits Assam Amidst ULFA Bandh

Guwahati: A day time bandh call (shutdown or total non-cooperation) by the United Liberation Front of Assam passed out peacefully Saturday amidst which Indian Premier campaigned in eastern Assam in support of Congress candidates for the State Assembly election scheduled on April 4 and 11 next.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh arrived in Dhakuakhana of Lakhimpur district in the morning. A representative of Assam in upper house of Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Dr Singh addressed a mammoth election rally there at around 11 am for the party candidates.

The 12-hour Assam bandh that started at 6 am could made impact on the State, where the shut down was almost total in Brahmaputra valley and was partially effective in Barak valley of Assam. The roads wore a deserted look as there was little traffic and also shops were closed, though the train and air services were operated as usual. The banned armed outfit, which is fighting the Indian government for a separate country since 1979, called for the bandh to show their resentments ahead of first phase poll on April 4 for the 126 Assam Legislative Assembly.

In fact, the ULFA called for a 12-hour Assam bandh on March 28, the day Dr Singh initially planned to visit the State. Suddenly Dr Singh’s visit was postponed and the outfit too immediately withdrew their bandh call.

The bandh has also shown the vertical divide of ULFA, as the Arabinda Rajkhowa faction appealed to the people of Assam to oppose it. A group of ULFA leaders, most of whom were arrested in Bangladesh months back and later released on bail by Indian courts, had recently talked to Dr Singh in New Delhi and an initial peace process with the ULFA faction led by Rajkhowa started. But the other faction of ULFA led by its military chief Paresh Barua is still waging a war against New Delhi. Most of them are believed to be inside Burma, as Dhaka government became hostile to them, and some are suspected to be inside China, from where they are maintaining the disruptive activities.

In the recent e-mail statement issued by Arunadoi Dahatiya, publicity secretary of ULFA (Paresh Barua faction) argued that Dr Singh had made enough useless promises to the people of Assam. The last one was the promise made by the Prime Minister ‘to discuss all core issues for political solution of Assam-India conflict’ that was not materialized. Of course in his speech on Saturday meeting, Dr Singh mentioned about the peace process with the ULFA leaders and expressed his satisfaction on the progress. He appealed to the other militant groups of the trouble torn region for coming forward for discussion. Dr Singh also urged the electorate of Assam to support the Congress led government at Dispur once again. The party is expecting for a consecutive third term in Assam as the opposition parties namely Asom Gana Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party and AIUDF remain un-united and not much visible.

However, the militant outfit blamed Dr Singh as a liar because of his official residential address in Guwahati. It argues that Dr Singh hails from Punjab State in north India and shows a rented house in Guwahati to contest for Rajya Sabha polls from Assam. His permanent residence has been show in government document as House No 3989, Nandan Nagar, Sarumotoria, Dispur, Guwahati, Assam-781006.

All these arrangements were made by the then Assam chief minister Hiteswar Saikia in 1991 to facilitate Dr Singh to reach the Indian Parliament as a Congress nominee. Since then the economist turned politician remains a Rajya Sabha member from Assam and incidentally he becomes the prime minister instead of Indian Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

“The Congress not only divided the indigenous communities of Assam but also turned the State into a grazing ground for foreigners (illegal migrants from Bangladesh). We want the birthrights of indigenous people must be restored,” said the statement.

“We want to make it clear that the people of Assam will never be fooled by false promises made by the Congress party any more,” asserted in the statement. But the cricket loving people of Assam find it pleasing as they could enjoy the high voltage World Cup Cricket final match between India and Sri Lanka starting by afternoon in Mumbai in television. The cricket fans had already enjoyed an exciting semi-final match between India and Pakistan on March 30 last. After 1983, Indian fans including those cricket lovers from Assam, expected to win the cricket world cup once again in 2011.