No statehood talks held with KLO chief, a guest of Assam govt: Himanta
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: The head of banned Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which has been agitating for long demanding a separate state, is currently a guest of the Assam government, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here on Saturday.

However, no talks were held by his government or the Centre with Jiban Singha Koch over the statehood demand, Sarma said.

The KLO is demanding a separate state comprising parts of Cooch Behar, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal and those of Goalpara and Kokrajhar districts of Assam.

“The KLO chief is now a guest of the Assam government I have spoken to him over the phone and will soon meet him,” Sarma told a press conference here.

He, however, did not disclose where Koch and the other KLO leaders, who came to India from Myanmar recently, are staying.

The media reports over the “Kamtapur state” are speculative and they are creating apprehension in the minds of some communities like the Rabhas and the Bodos in the state, the CM said.

A sizeable number of people belonging to the Rabha and Bodo live in Goalpara and Kokrajhar districts respectively.

“I have not seen anything in the West Bengal media regarding Kamtapur (statehood issue) but there is a lot of speculation here (Assam). Why create turmoil? There has been no discussion so far. Peace should be given a chance,” said Sarma.

Asked about his stand on the Kamtapur issue, Sarma said, “When there is no issue, why should I take a stand?”.

In a multi-lingual and multi-community state like Assam, sensitivity is the key to maintain peace and “when the time comes for discussions, it will be held”, Sarma added.

Koch and nine other KLO leaders had reportedly “surrendered” before the Assam Rifles after entering Nagaland’s Mon district from Myanmar last week and were taken to New Delhi on Wednesday.

Sarma had on Thursday said in New Delhi that the KLO leadership has returned to the mainstream and “no major announcement” is likely to be made in the near future.

“They have come now, will rest for some time and then hold discussions with the Centre,” he had said.

Koch formed the KLO in December 1995 to seek a separate state for the Koch-Rajbongshi, one of the six communities demanding Scheduled Tribe status in the state.

In a recent statement, the KLO chief said he was happy to inform that the “process of bilateral discussion between the Government of India and the KLO on the issue of the people of Koch-Kamatapur has reached its final stage under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah with active mediation of the Assam Chief minister”.

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