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ULFA denies extortion allegations, says won’t talk under pressure

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Kolkata: The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has denied media reports sourced to security officials saying its cadres continued to engage in massive extortion despite an unilateral declaration of ceasefire last month.

A statement by ULFA spokesperson “Lieutenant” Rumel Asom on Tuesday said: “On behalf of ULFA, I emphatically contradict media reports blaming us for extortion.

“Since we declared an unilateral ceasefire on 15th May this year, none of our units have collected any money from businessmen, citizens or anybody else. All allegations to this effect are false and malicious.”

Rumel Asom said that the Indian Army and Assam Police were responsible for spreading such rumours.

“Our leadership unilaterally declared the ceasefire because they wanted to create a climate of peace and trust.

“Without such an atmosphere, no meaningful discussions for resolving the conflict will be possible. But the Army and state police have vested interest in perpetuating the conflict, so they are spreading rumours and creating confusion,” Rumel Asom said.

Asom said that the security establishment may be under the impression that a financially weakened ULFA will sit for talks and accept “anything offered to them by Delhi” .

“The ULFA will never bargain with the interests of Assam. It will rather fight on but it wanted to give peace a chance. That should not be read as weakness,” he said, adding, “whether we are financially weak or not, it has nothing to do with our political stance.”

The ULFA supremo Paresh Barua declared an unilateral ceasefire on May 15.

The security establishment, both army and Assam police, expressed reservations about the offer with some officers saying that the rebel group was trying to wriggle out of a difficult situation caused by deaths, desertions and decimations in the ULFA ranks.

“Many senior ULFA leaders have surrendered or died in encounters. Paresh Barua has spoken peace in such circumstances before to take the heat off,” said a senior Assam police officer.

By Anwesha Bhaumik

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