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NDFB to participate in elections
Published on 30 Jan. 2010 12:36 AM IST
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The pro-talk faction of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Friday announced it would participate in upcoming council elections in Assam. ‘We might not put up candidates on our own, but would support candidates or political parties that advocate our cause for separate Bodoland,’ Gobinda Basumatary, general secretary of the pro-talk NDFB faction, told journalists. Dates for the elections have not been announced, but they are expected to be held by March. The statement comes after the outfit held its general council meeting at its designated camp in Udalguri in northern Assam Thursday. The Basumatary-led NDFB entered into a ceasefire with New Delhi in 2005, although another faction headed by guerrilla leader Ranjan Daimary is still underground. The two rival NDFB factions are engaged in a bitter fratricidal war in the Bodo dominated areas in western and northern Assam. The two factions are also engaged in clashes with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a political party now ruling the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), a politico-administrative structure in the region. More than 200 people have been killed in the last three years in these clashes. The BPF was formed after the outlawed Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) was disbanded and the Bodo Accord signed in 2004 after the entire BLT rebels came overground. ‘We hope our decision to join the electoral process, although not directly, is taking in the right perspective. We appeal all to stop killings and bloodshed,’ the NDFB leader said. ‘The decision by the NDFB to enter the political domain would trigger more violence,’ a senior Congress party leader said. Although the pro-talk NDFB leaders and their cadres (about 700) are supposed to stay in designated camps, there are reports that they move around with weapons and engage in violence. Formal peace talks with the ceasefire NDFB group are yet to begin. NDFB terror grips Sonitpur tea estates A fear psychosis has gripped the managerial staff of nearly six tea estates located in the fringe areas of Chariduar reserve forest in Assam’s Sonitpur district following constant harassment by militants of the Ranjan Daimary faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB). According to a report in the Telegraph, already two senior executives of a tea estate in Dhekiajuli have tendered their resignations citing personal reasons and left in the past month. The garden has witnessed at least two abductions in the past few months. A few more executives are said to be toying with the idea of resigning. Several executives, who are still serving in these gardens, have sent their families home. The official version is that resignations are normal in a company as people look for greener pastures. However, sources said fear of the gun was forcing the staff to quit. An official of the Assam Branch of the Indian Tea Association, admitted that the executives of at least six tea estates in Sonitpur were working under constant fear of the gun. “Most of these gardens are in the remote areas and there has been a constant threat from the anti-talks faction of NDFB.” He, however, said that despite all odds, these gardens were functioning normally. “We are in touch with the district administration and have apprised them about the situation,” he added. Such has been the NDFB’s terror in the garden from which two executives resigned recently that the owner of a departmental store sold his property and fled to Rajasthan a few months ago. The Bodo militants had abducted an employee of the store and released him only in lieu of a hefty amount. The NDFB also kidnapped the son of the new owner of the store last month. He returned after about 15 days. There are also reports of the NDFB serving extortion notices to other petty businessmen and tea garden employees in these areas. The only executive still posted in the estate said he had no option but to stay on. “I have sent my children home. I am staying with my wife here,” he added. Another tea executive said, “How can someone work when there is always the lurking fear of militants kidnapping you or your family members?” A senior police official at Tezpur said the militants were taking advantage of the remoteness of these gardens. “By the time we get information of militant movement in these areas, they manage to flee. It is not possible to post a police picket in each and every part of the district,” he said. Not only the tea gardens, the NDFB has been spreading terror in the entire Sonitpur district. “These strikes only add to the fear of the businessmen and the tea garden executives. It’s better to pay up or leave,” a tea industry captain said.

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