The leader of an Indian separatist group has alleged that his son has been kidnapped in Bangladesh. Paresh Barua, head of the military wing of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), said his teenage son’s kidnappers were “pressurising” him to negotiate with the Indian government. Indian intelligence officials have dismissed Mr Barua’s claim. They say the Ulfa is divided on the question of whether to join the peace process with India or not. Ulfa rebels have fought for a separate Assamese homeland since 1979. In an emailed statement, Mr Barua said his son’s kidnappers tactics “won’t work”. “Thousands of young men and women have died fighting for Assam’s independence and my son may join that long list of martyrs. If that happens, I will be prepared for it,” he said. Mr Baruah did not provide details about when his son was kidnapped. He broadly alluded to “an Indian conspiracy”, but the rebel chief was not specific about who could have been behind it. But his statement attacked some senior Ulfa leaders, who Mr Barua alleged, were now “throwing all ideals to the wind” and trying to start the negotiations with India.
Mr Barua has opposed negotiations, saying there could be no dialogue with India, unless the “issue of Assam’s sovereignty” was on the agenda, something that the government refuses to accept. A spokesman for the group’s pro-negotiations faction, Mithinga Daimary, dismissed the reported kidnapping as “a fiction”. A large number of Ulfa leaders have been released from prisons in Assam after they promised to start a dialogue with India. The group’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who was detained in Bangladesh last year and handed over to India, is also likely to be freed soon as the Assam government has not opposed his bail petitions. – BBC