Jehadis bigger problem than ULFA: APW

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Guwahati, Jun 25 (UNI) The Assam Public Works (APW) today appealed Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to accept the ULFA's 28th battalion's ceasefire offer and concentrate more on eliminating jehadi forces from the state, which it claimed, was emerging as a ''bigger problem'' than the ULFA.

''We appeal to the Chief Minister to negotiate peace talks with the middle and grassroots level ULFA cadres who have come forward, defying their top leaders and facing possible death threats,'' APW director Abhijit Sharma here said.

He informed that the APW was an organisation formed mostly by families of ULFA cadres and their victims, and was working towards exposing the militants and other anti-social threats that emerged in the state.

Pointing that the ULFA cadres should be promised safety after their peace overtures, Mr Sharma said, ''If the government opens designated camps for the cadres, the APW is ready to shoulder training facilities for 200 such cadres.'' Lambasting ULFA leaders Paresh Barua and Arabinda Rajkhowa for ''selling out to the jehadis'', the APW leader alleged that they were running huge business empires and never wanted the ULFA problem to be solved through peaceful talks.

Questioning the ULFA top command's motives in associating itself with Islamic terrorist groups, Mr Sharma said, ''ULFA leaders should clarify whether they are fighting for a sovereign Assam or a greater Islamic nation, with Assam as a part.'' Noting the increase in jehadi activities in the state, he said jehadis were posing greater challenge to the state than ULFA at this point of time.

''ULFA cadres are our brothers, they can always come back to the mainstream as they are trying to do now. But we can never accept the jehadis,'' he added.

He informed that against 800 ULFA cadres being arrested and 11,000 being killed, only 240 jehadis had been held so far in the state, with none killed in any encounter.

''The jehadi issue has to be tackled fast as they are making inroads into our state, especially through the border areas with Bangladesh,'' Mr Sharma stated.

The APW also submitted a memorandum over these issues to the Chief Minister today.

UNI SG RH DPM KLC1512

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