GUWAHATI, June 21 � A huge cache of arms of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was seized by Bangladesh authorities at the time when it launched the crackdown on the leaders of the militant outfit, who were using the territory of that country as a safe haven for years.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that during the crackdown in the last part of the year 2009, the Bangladesh authorities seized more than 500 weapons belonging to the ULFA in addition to picking up of senior leaders of the outfit, who were later handed over to India. It may be mentioned here that senior leaders of the ULFA including the chairman of the outfit, Arabinda Rajkhowa, foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, Finance Secretary Chitraban Hazarika and Deputy Commander-in-chief Raju Baruah were picked up by the Bangladesh authorities and they were handed over to India in the last part of the year 2009.
However, after completing his jail term, the ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia is still in the protective custody of Bangladesh and official sources said that according to information available with the Government, Chetia�s plea for political asylum in Bangladesh was rejected twice. But the Government is still not aware whether Chetia is willing to join the peace process. �The Government of India is hopeful that the ULFA general secretary would be willing to join the peace process. The Government would start making efforts to bring Chetia back to India as soon as he wants to come and join the peace process,� sources added.
On the progress of the peace process with the ULFA, sources said that the first step would be the signing of a formal agreement for suspension of operations and formal and informal talks are going on with the leaders of the outfit in this regard to formulate the modalities. But the Centre is very clear on its stand that the ULFA would have to deposit weapons before the formal talks start but the modalities for it are yet to be cleared. Within the last week, the leaders of the ULFA had meetings with the Central Government�s interlocutor PC Haldar and the Joint Secretary (North East) of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Shambhu Singh in this regard but sources refused to divulge the details of the meetings.
On the issue of shifting the members of the pro-talk faction of the ULFA to the designated camps, sources revealed that the leaders of the ULFA are interested in keeping their cadres in eight or nine specific locations. But the ULFA leaders are not keen on terming the locations as designated camps. �The ULFA leaders are demanding that separate nomenclature should be given to the locations where the members of the outfit would be kept and the Government is willing to accept the demand,� sources added.
Sources further revealed that the Government of India is not opposed to the idea of allowing the pro-talk ULFA members to mingle with the society as �it is felt that if they mingle with the common people , their assimilation in the society would be easier.�