Sunday, May 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ultras kill 6 Cong men
Saga of violence continues in Assam
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 5
The saga of violence continued in Assam with militants gunning down six Congress workers in a fresh spell of pre-poll violence today even as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee called upon people to put an all-out effort to defeat attempts to disrupt the democratic process in the trouble-torn state through the help of bullets.

In the latest round of violence in the state going to the polls on May 10, unidentified assailants gunned down two Congress workers and injured two others at Sadhuabagan tea estate in Sonitpur district.

In a separate incident, three Congress workers were killed when suspected militants ambushed their cars in Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district, while another party worker was shot and then hacked to death at Chaygaon in Kamrup district, the police said.

The police said the identity of the assailants could not be immediately ascertained.

A suspected militant of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) was killed during an encounter with the police at Sarthebari in Barperta district of lower Assam.

The attacks are the latest in a series of poll-related violence by ULFA in the run-up to the May 10 elections in Assam.

More than 50 persons have been killed in the past month in election-related violence, including an election candidate of the BJP party. While BJP candidate, Jayanta Dutta was shot dead in Dibrugarh, an AGP candidate for the Barpeta seat, Kumar Dipak Das, was seriously injured and he may end up losing both his legs following an attack on him two days earlier.

Nearly 35,000 Army and paramilitary personnel have been deployed throughout the state to combat the ULFA militants and provide security to ensure a trouble free poll on May 10.

Later in the day, addressing a public rally in the state capital of Guwahati the Prime Minister launched an attack on the reported nexus between the Congress and the banned ULFA and blamed the party for aiding terrorism in the state.

Stopping short of categorically stating that the Congress had entered into some kind of an agreement with the militants, Mr Vajpayee wondered why the party had not come with a strong condemnation against the killings of the workers and candidates of the AGP and BJP.

“The string of attacks targetted at BJP and AGP workers and candidates is only an ugly manifestation of the desperation that has crept into the minds of those who have adopted these methods”, he said, adding “I sometimes doubt whether the Congress believes in democracy.”

“Why are they (Congress) keeping their mouth shut? Why are they silent?” he asked.

“The Congress is hungry for power,” he said adding: “Just like a fish which cannot remain outside water for long, the Congress too cannot survive without power for which they would try any means”.

But let me assure you, the power of the ballot is mightier than the power of the bullet, the Prime Minister observed in the public rally.

Speaking to newspersons, Mr Vajpayee reiterated the same point and said there were strong indications of a nexus between the Congress and the banned ULFA. The Congress has so far not taken a definite stand on the killings, he said.


Pre-poll violence in Assam worries Vajpayee

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee waves to a crowd during an election rally in Bulbulchandi, 400 km north of Kolkata on Saturday.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee waves to a crowd during an election rally in Bulbulchandi, 400 km north of Kolkata on Saturday. Mr Vajpayee said he wanted the opposition groups, particularly the Congress and the Communists, to support him in pushing forward economic reforms. — Reuters photo

Purnea (Bihar), May 5
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today expressed confidence that the BJP and its allies would perform very well in the May 10 Assembly elections in West Bengal and Assam and said the Trinamool Congress’ decision to snap its ties with the BJP would not adversely affect his party’s fortunes in West Bengal.

“We will perform very well in the Assembly elections in both states,” he told reporters during a brief stopover at the Chainpur Air Force base here while proceeding on the campaign trail to Malda in Bengal.

Mr Vajpayee expressed concern over the spate of pre-poll violence in Assam, but said elections in the state would be held on time despite the terror unleashed by the militants.

The BJP-AGP combine would emerge victorious in  Assam, he said.

BULBULCHANDI (West Bengal): Mr Vajpayee lambasted the Trinamool Congress for aligning with the Congress for the West Bengal Assembly, elections stating that Trinamool Congress was playing the “C” team of the CPM in the state.

Addressing an election rally at the Girijasundari Vidyamandir ground, 20 km from Malda Town in North Bengal, he said the Trinamool Congress had joined hands with the party which it had accused as the CPM’s “B” team.

Mr Vajpayee said he had doubts whether the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance would deliver the goods for West Bengal.

Mr Vajpayee said the Congress and Left parties, which were demanding his resignation, should themselves go to the people to secure a mandate.

“The Congress and the Left parties, which disturbed the last session of Parliament, have been demanding my resignation without any logic,” he said.

“I can’t just resign as I have a majority support. The people elected me and it is only they who can remove me. Let the Congress and the Left parties go to the people and get their mandate,” he said.

Stating that there was no threat to his BJP-led NDA government, he said it would complete its full term.

Taking a dig at Marxists, he said Communism had lost its relevance in the world today after its collapse in erstwhile USSR. “I don’t know what the Left parties here mean by communism. Indian Communists should review their line of thought”, he said. PTI, UNI

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