GUWAHATI, May 22 (IANS): The anti-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Tuesday called for a 12-hour dawn-to-dusk Assam shutdown May 26 to oppose the scheduled visit to Assam by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who also heads the ruling United Progressive Alliance.
"ULFA has called the shutdown from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 26," said assistant publicity secretary Arunodoy Asom of the ULFA faction led by Paresh Baruah in a statement e-mailed to media Tuesday.
All essential services were, however, exempted from the purview of the bandh, the statement said. Baruah, ULFA's commander-in-chief, has opposed any peace talks with the central and Assam governments.
"The shutdown is being called to protest against the Indian colonial occupation in Assam, and the government's bid to set up nuclear war-heads in Assam, for converting Assam to a thriving ground of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, setting up of mega hydro-power projects in collusion with big industry names to exploit the water resources of the state and the recent move to set up National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC)," said the statement.
The outfit had earlier called a similar Assam shutdown April 20, opposing the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Although the outfit triggered two explosions at Jorhat and Sibsagar April 19 evening, the blasts failed to deter the prime minister from visiting the state.
Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to visit Assam May 26 to take part in the official function celebrating the first year of the third successive term of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's Congress government in Assam.
The Assam government has planned to hold a grand event marking the official celebrations at the Sarusojai Stadium in Guwahati.
The Congress under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi came to power in Assam in 2001 and then retained power in the 2006 and 2011 assembly elections.