GUWAHATI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a charge sheet against Paresh Baruah, the chief of the militant group the United Liberation Front of Asom – Independent (ULFA-I), and four other rebel leaders in connection with a grenade blast in Guwahati in June 2019.
The development comes amid reports that the group may join peace talks with the Centre.
Since May of this year, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government took office in Assam, there has been speculation that ULFA-I could join peace talks with the Centre.
The charge sheet was filed on Tuesday at the NIA special court in Guwahati against Paresh Baruah and four others– Pappu Koch Bokoliyal, Munna Baruah, Amrit Ballav Goswami, Arunodoy Dahotiya with the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) (UA(P) Act, 1967.
On June 29, 2019, the suspected ULFA (I) grenade blast near a shopping mall on Guwahati’s RG Baruah Road injured at least 12 people.
The outfit has, however, insisted that the issue of Assam’s sovereignty be included in the talks—a precondition that has been rejected by both the Centre and the state government.
For the first time since its inception in 1979, ULFA-I did not boycott or call for a ‘bandh’ on Independence Day this year.
Earlier in a statement released in August this year, the ULFA-I said, “‘Our organisation is neither anti-talks nor belligerent. However, in the name of talks, we cannot deny historical facts or deviate from our ideological goals. The Indian government has maintained that talks with ULFA-I cannot include the issue of (Assam’s) sovereignty.”