Guwahati, Jan 21 (IANS): The peace process between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and the government came under a cloud with the outfit's elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah today rejecting the initiative.
"We don't support the so-called talks. We want independence," about 100-odd ULFA cadres wielding sophisticated weapons and shouting slogans were heard in an ULFA video received by IANS.
Three videos were released today. One showed Paresh Baruah in camouflage fatigues dancing to the tune of Bihu songs along with gun totting ULFA cadres, and a second one showed the ULFA commander-in-chief sitting on a cane chair flanked by a group of commanders.
A third video showed about 100 armed cadres raising slogans both in Assamese and English: "We dont't support the so-called talks. We want independence."
"Independence is our birth right and we shall continue with our armed struggle until and unless we achieve our goal," they shouted.
The videos were released at a time when the ULFA central executive is meeting under the leadership of Arabinda Rajkhowa, released on bail Jan 1 from the Guwahati Central Jail.
The central executive began at village Choria in the western Assam district of Nalbari on Thursday. The meeting was aimed at working out modalities for holding peace talks with the government.
Besides Rajkhowa, those taking part in the meeting include vice chairman Pradep Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, publicity chief Mithinga Daimary, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and octogenarian political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.
All the top eight ULFA leaders are out on bail now with the government facilitating their release from jail to pave the way for peace talks.
"Our message to the government of India and the so-called peace brokers - 'don't dictate to us compromise. Come and kill us. You cannot kill our spirit and motto'," a statement of ULFA dissenters e-mailed to IANS said.
The e-mail statement was tagged along with the video footage.
"There are no divisions in ULFA and collectively we want independence," the statement read.
The ULFA videos and the statement showed that the faction headed by Paresh Baruah is opposed to the peace process despite Arabinda Rajkhowa publicly stating the outfit is in favour of unconditional peace talks with the government.
That Paresh Baruah was opposed to the peace talks was stated by IANS on Thursday quoting noted Assamese writer Indira Raisom Goswami, known to be very close to the ULFA commander-in-chief.
"Paresh Baruah has not given the consent or approval for the peace process initiated by the ULFA leadership currently out on bail," Goswami told IANS on Thursday. Paresh Baruah telephoned Goswami several times in the past few days, the last call was received by her on Wednesday.
"Paresh Baruah is not willing to come and join the peace talks and it seems he is very stubborn," Goswami said.
New Delhi has already appointed PC Haldar as the peace interlocutor for the talks, and the ULFA leadership last week held a preliminary round of meeting with him in Guwahati.
More than 10,000 people have lost their lives in Assam with the ULFA, fighting for an independent, sovereign homeland since 1979, considered one of the most organised rebel armies in the region.