'Ex rebels should not be allowed to contest polls'


By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Dec 25: The Assam Public Works has decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a direction barring former insurgents from contesting elections.

Peeved at the "grand reception" given to ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia after he was released from jail on Thursday, APW president Aabhijeet Sharma sought to remind the people who organized the reception and feasts that the rebel leader was responsible for killing thousands of Assamese people, including children.

"This has become a trend now. First you take up arms and wage a war against the State. Then you surrender or get arrested, and later become an MLA or MP or forcibly corner contract works to live a king size life later," Sharma told The Sentinel.

He said one cannot allow this to happen again and again. Some, he said, has to put up a resistance.

"We are filing a petition in the Supreme Court very soon seeking a ban on former insurgent leaders contesting elections," he said.

"...Has anyone ever thought what will the family members of the victims killed by the outfit feel after seeing those visuals in which the rebel leader is being given a hero's welcome...? As if he has come home after winning a battle," he said.

 "The law has given him bail. We have nothing to say on that. He has returned after 18 years...he should spend a month or two with his family now," Sharma quipped.

Nonetheless, Sharma hoped that Chetia will not repeat what Arabinda Rajkhowa and other leaders of the pro-talks faction have been doing.

"Chetia should do something for the boys who are languishing at the desigted camps unlike their leaders who are living a lavish life. These youths in the desigted camps should be rehabilitated so that they do not go off course again," the APW chief said.

Sharma also felt the ULFA general secretary should try and bring Paresh Baruah to the negotiating table, for "without him, no accord can bring peace." "Arabinda Rajkhowa doesn't want his. Because, if Paresh Baruah comes, he will lose importance," Sharma pointed out.

Senior advocate Nekibur Zaman was also sceptical of hardcore insurgents being let off so easily.

"Law is equal for all. I am not sure if justice is being done to the family members of the victims by letting off such hardcore insurgents so easily. In many cases, it is the government which has withdrawn the cases or has not opposed the bails just on the pretext of facilitating peace talks," Zaman said.

Chetia, who was arrested in Bangladesh in 1997 for entering the country on fake documents, possessing illegal foreign currency and arms, was languishing in different jails in the country since then.

Last month, he was deported to India. On his arrival in New Delhi, the CBI arrested him for a murder that took place in 1988. He is accused in a number of murder, kidpping and extortion cases.

On November 18, Chetia was brought to Assam on a transit remand and was produced in a special CBI court, which sent him to CBI custody. On November 23, he was produced in court again and sent to judicial custody.

Significantly, in his first public statement after being deported to the State, Chetia had sought apologies from the people for the "wrongs done during the movement in the past" and sought forgiveness. But will that "repentance" suffice?

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