Guwahati, Aug 9: ULFA ‘chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa today denied there was a split in the group and claimed that ‘commander-in-chief' Paresh Barua, reportedly opposed to the ongoing peace process, also wanted a solution to the 32-year-old conflict.
“There is no split in the ULFA. There are no factions. It is only the media which says one faction is led by Paresh Barua and another by Arabinda Rajkhowa,” Rajkhowa told PTI here in an interview.
“Paresh Baruah as the ‘commander-in-chief' of our organisation may want a military solution and I as the head of the organisation want a political solution ... but both of us want a solution to the conflict,” he said.
Asked if he has spoken with Baruah to be present at the peace talks, he said, “He is interested, but has doubts about how much we can trust the government of India. “Besides, he has never himself opposed the talks. It is only a person by the name of Arun Udoy Dohotia who issues press statements opposing the talks,” he claimed.
“I am in touch with Barua. Not much can be spoken on phone except for asking about each other's welfare. Such important matters relating to the peace talks cannot be discussed on the phone.”
He said discussions had to be held face to face with all executive council members based on the collective leadership principle.
“During our last executive council meeting (in July), we did ask Paresh Baruah to participate in the peace process in the interest of the people,” Rajkhowa said.
On the possibility of negative impact of Barua's absence at the just-begun peace talks, he said, “This is doubt in the mind of the media. The government of India has made no demand that he has to be present at the talks or for that matter all our cadres in the jungles have to come out.
“Even without Baruah the talks have taken place and the peace process is progressing. Baruah knows that our organisation's aim is resolution of the Assam-India conflict.”
He also alleged “a tendency is seen in certain quarters not to give us our due and what they think about us is their individual matter, but they cannot deprive us of our self-respect. We are not a toothless snake.”
On Dohotia issuing press statements, Rajkhowa said, “As per our constitution there is no existence of a person by that name. We, therefore, give no recognition to the statements given out by Dohotia in the name of Paresh Baruah against the talks.” PTI