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NSCN(I-M) must drop demand: ULFA

GUWAHATI, JULY 29. The United Liberation Front of Assam today called for a plebiscite on its demand for Independence and urged the NSCN(I-M) to drop its demand over eight districts of the State. ``If a referendum is needed to decide on the issue of sovereignty, so be it,'' said Mr. Arabinda Rajkhowa, head of the political wing of the ULFA, in its latest mouthpiece Freedom.

The ULFA leader said the outfit was prepared for a political settlement to the more than two decades of insurgency in Assam but alleged that the Government was not sincere.

``We want a political solution to the conflict. In offering peace talks, India is constantly trying to thwart our national liberation struggle. But in reality it has not taken any meaningful step to look for a political solution to our demand,'' Mr. Rajkhowa said.

Mr. Rajkhowa called upon the NSCN(I-M) to remove the eight Assam districts from its map. He said a ``fellow organisation'' did not think it necessary to consult the ULFA or the people of Assam on the issue before making such a claim.

The ULFA leader also said it had ``no plan to include Bhutan in its territory''.

Advani's claim denied

Mr. V.S. Atem, seniormost NSCN(I-M) leader based in the region, denied the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani's claim that his organisation had approved the Centre's proposal to limit the truce only to Nagaland.

``There is no question of the NSCN(I-M) agreeing to such a proposal (of restricting the ceasefire only to Nagaland). It's nothing but a breach of trust by the Centre. It is illogical to have ceasefire continuing in a place while fight goes on in an adjoining area,'' Mr. Atem, convener of the NSCN(I-M)'s steering committee, said.

APCC hails decision

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) today lauded the Centre's decision to restrict the territorial limits of the ceasefire with the NSCN(I-M) to Nagaland.

At a general council meeting, the APCC welcomed the move and praised the efforts of the Chief Minister, Mr. Tarun Gogoi, for handling the situation (arising out of the extension of ceasefire to areas outside Nagaland) in an effective manner, the party spokesman, Mr. Ripun Bora, told reporters here.

Naga blockade

The 46-hour economic blockade and hill districts bandh in Manipur called by the Naga Youth Front affected normal life in some hill areas today, official reports said.

The front has called the bandh and economic blockade at two national highways of Number 39 (Imphal-Dimapur) and Number 53 (Imphal-Jiribam) to press its demand for extension of Centre- NSCN(I-M) ceasefire to some hill areas in Manipur.

- PTI, UNI

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