NEW DELHI: United Liberation Front of Assam(ULFA) pro-talks faction has claimed that religious fundamentalism is on the rise in the state where it has been carrying out terror attacks for decades. Arabinda Rajkhowa,the Chairman of this outfit said that the jihadi groups were trying to create a base in the state, following a meeting of the outfit’s top leadership to review its ongoing negotiations with the government.

Cautioning the government and appealing to the people to be vigilant against such forces,he said “The threat could be more serious than we think. People need to be cautious of the threat in order to defeat the evil designs of fundamentalist forces”.

His comments have come at a time when huge furore was created and eyebrows raised over the arrests of six alleged members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) from Barpeta district of Assam in connection with the blast case in Burdwan district of West Bengal.

Stating that the outfit’s objectives have no room for jihadi fundamentalism and are purely peace-oriented, he said “The main objective of our peace process with the government is to bring about an end to bloodshed in the state and that cannot be achieved if jihadi fundamentalism is allowed to grow here.

“We would bring this matter to the notice of the government. We do not want Assam to become like Iraq, Afghanistan or Lebanon,” he added.

Responding to allegations about ULFA’’s links with fundamentalist forces, Rajkhowa said that though, it is a fact that ULFA cadres had undergone (arms) training in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. However, the outfit has never had any links with the fundamentalist or jihadi outfits.

Infact, he added, the outfit has had never shared radical ideologies like those who believe in jihad.

“The Ulfa has been, in principle, opposed to fundamentalism and religious bigotry since its inception. Ulfa’s aim is to achieve the rights of indigenous people of Assam beyond religious brackets. Our ideology is completely separate from those of the jihadis,” he said.

“There had been pressure to link ULFA with fundamentalist forces and even in drug trafficking. But as per its policy, the outfit had never indulged in such activities,” Rajkhowa said.

These revelations are all the more important due to the recent assertions of Islamic forces (particularly Al Qaeda), that they are trying to make inroads into minority-dominated areas of Assam have already put security agencies on alert.

Talking about ULFA’s ongoing peace pact with the Assam government, he said that he was satisfied over the progress of talks with the government.

However, the ULFA Chairman added that they expect the next round of talks to be held soon after Diwali.

“We appeal to the government to take the talks to its logical conclusion at the earliest so that we can arrive at a permanent solution to the India-Assam conflict,” he said.

“We hope that the new government at the Centre will take the talks forward and a resolution would be reached shortly,” Rajkhowa said.