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Major Indian rebel leader released on bail

Major Indian rebel leader released on bail

The Indian government allowed a major separatist leader to be released on bail on Thursday, hoping the gesture would lead to peace talks with rebels in the country's troubled northeast.
Arabinda Rajkhowa has been in prison in Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, since he was picked up by the Bangladesh government and handed to Indian authorities in December last year. The 54-year-old is the leader of the main rebel group in Assam state, the United Liberation Front of Asom, which has been fighting since 1979 for an independent homeland to be carved out of India's remote northeast _ a demand rejected by New Delhi.
Tarun Gogoi, the Assam state's top elected official, said the government decided not to oppose the rebel leader's bail and hopes that the move will bring about peace talks with the group.
The separatists accuse the Indian government of exploiting Assam's natural resources while doing little for the indigenous people, most of whom are ethnically closer to the people of Myanmar and China than to other Indians.
Judge S. Bora granted bail to Rajkhowa, who is facing a charge of sedition, which is punishable by life imprisonment.
"Rajkhowa has got bail in all the cases filed by Indian security forces against him and he is now free to walk out of jail," said Bijon Mahajan, his attorney.
India now hopes Rajkhowa will convene a meeting of top leaders of his group, many of whom are in hiding, to discuss starting peace talks with the government.
On Thursday, the Assam state government offered safe passage to his group to expedite the peace process, Gogoi said.


Updated : 2021-10-22 12:45 GMT+08:00