ULFA chief's sister wins Assam panchayat elections

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Guwahati, Feb 14 : In a noticeable development, ULFA Commander-in-Chief Paresh Barua's sister Heeravati Chetia won the Panchayat elections in her village.

She contested the Baruahola Panchayat body in Tinsukia's Chabua as a candidate of the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and defeated her nearest Congress rival Manjula Barua with a big margin.

"I am very happy to be elected to the panchayat through the support of the people. Almost every person in this village rendered support financially and morally during my campaign for the Gaon Parishad. I wanted to ensure development and uplift of my village to make it a better one," she said.

Baruhola Panchayat has sent a very strong message rejecting the culture of violence and hatred being perpetrated by the ULFA over the last two decades.

"I didn't even think about supporting my wife, but the villagers came forward and helped her in every aspect. She was through their blessings and support. I am really grateful to them," said Umakanta Chetia, Heeravati's husband.

She attributed her victory to people's support and emphasized the need for peace and development in the state which ULFA has deprived the people.

"I want different parties and groups to come forward and talk to restore permanent peace in the state. But I am not saying that I like any particular group. It's not that I have fought the election by favouring any particular party. I have won the election because people here have supported me," she said.

The people's support she received was spontaneous and not due to coercion and fear which the ULFA employs to get its way.

The signal from the people of the village symbolizes the strong desire of the people of Assam for permanent peace and development. They also want roads, electricity, schools and normalcy to grow and they think that people's representatives can deliver all this.

"I have been working with her much before the election. She is a good social worker. We hope to work for the development of the village. I would work hard for the welfare of the villagers,' said Sukant Sakiya, a villager.

Bhoben Das, another villager added, "Instead of calling shutdowns and road blockades, the militants should come forward for a dialogue with the government to bring a peaceful solution so that citizens can be assured of a civilized normal way of life."

Heeravati's victory is seen as a victory for democracy. Despite repeated attempts by the militant outfits to subvert people's power, common men and women have been coming forward in large numbers to participate in the electoral process.

In the last Assembly elections, despite the fear of the ULFA more than sixty per cent people cast their votes. By Apem Kamodang

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