ULFA’s Paresh Barua says Delhi must discuss Assam’s sovereignty
GUWAHATI: Barua called up a number of media outlets in Assam late on Saturday to disclose details of his telephone discussions with Sri Sri Ravishankar, the founder of the 'Art of Living'.
Ravishankar runs a highly popular chain of wellness care centres across India and is known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It now transpires that Ravishankar has been trying to get Paresh Barua to join the Assam peace talks now underway with the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).
"I clearly told Ravishankar that he is welcome to mediate. He tried to get me to join the talks but I said that is possible only if Delhi gives a written commitment to discuss the core issue of Assam's sovereignty," Barua is quoted as having told newsmen.
Barua says Ravishankar told him that Modi's government will fall if he agrees to discuss sovereignty.
"That may be the government's position. But my position is clear. I talk only if Delhi discusses sovereignty," Barua is quoted as saying.
Paresh Barua is leading a faction of the rebel group that calls itself ULFA (Independent).
Indian intelligence says the rebel chief is holed up in a place between Tenchong and Ruili on the China-Myanmar border since he fled Bangladesh when the Sheikh Hasina government started a crackdown against northeast Indian rebel groups based in the country.
Barua was later awarded the death penalty in the 2004 Chittagong arms haul case. Since he did not turn up to appeal against the sentence, he may be hanged if he is nabbed in Bangladesh.
Barua's group joined several other northeastern rebel outfits to form an anti-India coalition earlier this year.
The fighters of the coalition attacked several army and para-military formations and Delhi responded with a trans-border strike on their bases inside Myanmar in July.
That led to a furore after two Indian ministers disclosed details of the strike inside Myanmar.