Arabinda Rajkhowa, leader of the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), speaks to Rashmi Sarma about his awe of Mamoni baideo
Mamoni baideo felt that any kind of violation of human rights cannot be allowed to continue and no innocent person should lose their life
Mamoni baideo will always remain special and very important to me. I have known her as a person, as a peacemaker and as a writer. Just like Bhupen Hazarika, Mamoni baideo’s contribution to Assam is immense. We owe her a lot.
It is Mamoni baideo who actually deserves the credit of bringing us into the peace process. It was she who, through her sincere efforts, initiated the peace talks in 2005-06. The Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan came much later. Bhupen da also, while he was the chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, had approached us and wanted us to come forward for the peace talks in the late 1990s. But we could not take the process forward then or even later, in 2002, during Nibaran Bora’s time.
Mamoni baideo felt strongly for the people and worked for the cause of humanity. She observed very closely the sufferings of our people and she saw how many of our innocent cadres were tortured to death, how the women in our villages felt totally unsafe during Army operations. In the name of security and protection, what was being promoted was lawlessness. Mamoni baideo felt that any kind of violation of human rights cannot be allowed to continue and no innocent person should lose their life. Hence she initiated the peace process. There were many intellectuals in Assam who felt the same way and wanted the peace talks, but baideo gave it a concrete shape. She wanted to create an environment in Assam where people lived without fear and in harmony. She told us that you need to come out of the jungles and reach out to the people.
As a human being, she is very kind and as a writer, I have no words to explain how I feel about her writings. I am in awe of her works like most other people of Assam. Her command over language and the depth in her writings cannot be comprehended by ordinary people like us. We can only feel it. The entire world is aware of the treasure trove of her literary creations. She has taken our culture and our literature to the world. The high honours and the innumerable awards that she has been graced with are proof enough of how her work is adored across the globe.
I feel very sad today that we spent most of our years in hiding in the jungles, away from the people, though we were there fighting for the same people. Assam has produced some great personalities in different fields but living as we did, we missed out on interacting with them closely. When we came back, many of these people were either gone or not in a position to talk and express themselves due to failing health and other circumstances. I wish we could have spent more quality time with these great souls, especially with Mamoni baideo.