GUWAHATI, Jan 1 � Hope for peace is what ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, released from jail today, has foremost in his mind. �In every central committee meetings of ours, the members were very vocal about starting a dialogue with the government and on the need for a peaceful solution,� he said.
Talking to The Assam Tribune after his release, Rajkhowa said, �ULFA always believed in a political way out and the arms struggle is only a mean to achieve our political end. Armed revolution has many drawbacks. Our boys have died while on missions to buy arms. In this respect the arm dealers have benefited the most,� said Rajkhowa.
On whether, ULFA regretted any of its past action, Rajkhowa said �In armed revolution, mistakes are made. We took up arms for the sake of our motherland and to defend the interests of the Assamese people. Take the instance of the AASU activists getting killed during the Assam Agitation. They were not armed and so were defenceless. We do not believe in violence, but we are determined to fight and save our people from those trying to harm Assam.�
Rajkhowa�s heart weeps for those who lost their lives in the armed struggle. He said if everything is settled amicably, the ULFA will find out a way to help the family members of the people who lost their lives. �Many families have sacrificed their near and dear ones for the cause of the State, and we offer our deepest gratitude to them. We will surely make amends to any of our exigencies we committed in the past,� Rajkhowa said.
Lauding the positive attitude of the State and Central governments, Rajkhowa said that the ULFA will stay honest in its dealings and will work steadfast for the people of Assam. �We want to go to the people and ask for their opinion and advice. A peoples� convention is what we have in our minds,� he said.
The ULFA chairman said it may not be possible to contact Anup Chetia but ULFA C-in-C Paresh Barua may be contacted with the help of other leaders who are already out of jail. He would like to have all their leaders to take part in the peace talks.
Rubbishing reports of any division among the top leaders regarding holding talks with the Indian Government, Rajkhowa said, �The ULFA has always wanted a political solution to the problem of Assam. The Indian Government has over the years plundered the resources of the State and so we resorted to an armed uprising. But our basic philosophy has always been emancipation of the people of Assam through a political roadmap and all the leaders strictly adhere to this path. The reports of division in our ranks were meant to demoralize us.�
Speaking of the finances of the outfit, the ULFA chairman said that stories of our organization stashing away huge sums of money in Bangladesh banks are baseless. Officially, the ULFA do not have any bank account in Bangladesh. If someone has any personal account we are not aware of it, he said.
�The future of the peace process, depends on all the parties concerned and I appeal to all to treat the dialogue process with diligence and maturity. This is a golden opportunity for the people of Assam to assert their rights and pave a path to prosperity. The ULFA will serve as a harbinger of justice and what is right. The success of the dialogue process also depends hugely with the government. I appeal to the Indian Government to look at the conflict through a wide lens and not harp on some self-serving interest.
�Sovereignty to us is freedom from exploitation, getting due justice and social progress. People of a country expect uniformity when it comes to governance. As I have mentioned earlier, the government in New Delhi has adopted a step-motherly attitude to Assam. So the people of Assam have every right to liberation if their problems are not addressed. Sovereignty is not only physical separation from the mainland; it is a fight to end ignorance,� Rajkhowa added.
Thanking �Jatiya Abhibartan� and the State Government for their roles in making a cordial atmosphere for talk, Rajkhowa said now they have a Herculean task ahead as they have to look after the greater interest of the people.
He hoped the other ULFA leaders, who are still in jail, will, too, be released soon.