The head of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Arabinda Rajkhowa, called on New Delhi on Thursday to bring about a political solution to the conflict in Assam rather than trying to resolve the issue militarily.
ULFA, which has been fighting for an independent Assamese homeland since 1979, earlier this month rejected an offer by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to hold peace talks if the group renounces violence.
Rajkhowa said in a statement, “We know war is not a solution to our various grievances. But we were forced to wage an armed struggle after all doors for a negotiated settlement were closed.”
ULFA is blamed by police for carrying out a string of explosions in Assam last week in which five people were killed and 91 wounded.
“Independence is our birthright and we cannot compromise or give up our core demand of sovereignty,” the separatist leader said.
Tens of thousands of people carrying anti-ULFA placards took to the streets across Assam on Wednesday in protest against the series of blasts, most of which have taken place in crowded areas and marketplaces.
More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to the insurgency in Assam.