Let off ULFA leaders, and talks could begin: Rajkhowa
Guwahati: Chairman of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Arabinda Rajkhowa has said his outfit is ready to hold negotiations with the government if its jailed leaders are released to pave the way for peace talks.
"I have met Arabinda Rajkhowa and other leaders at the prison and they told me they were ready for peace talks, but made it clear that negotiations can be held only if they are released from jail," Lachit Bordoloi, a rights leader and member of the ULFA constituted People`s Consultative Group, told a news agency on Thursday.
Rajkhowa and ULFA`s deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah and their wives were arrested Dec 4. The two separatist leaders are now lodged at the Guwahati Central Jail.
Their wives were set free along with their children as they faced no charges.
Rajkhowa and Baruah joined four other ULFA leaders already at the Guwahati jail - self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, vice-president Pradeep Gogoi, and publicity chief Mithinga Daimaray.
"The ULFA leadership want a respectable settlement to the insurgency problem and expects the government to create a congenial atmosphere for peace talks," Bordoloi, who met the six ULFA leaders at the Guwahati jail on two separate occasions during the past one week, said.
Similar views were echoed by Rajkhowa`s wife Kaveri Kachari.
"My husband told me before he was being sent to jail that the ULFA was ready for talks, but not with handcuffs on," Kaveri told the news agency.
The 41-year-old wife of the ULFA chairman is now at the ancestral home of her husband in Lakwa in eastern Assam.
The government on its part is undecided on granting parole to the arrested ULFA leaders after the bitter experience in 1991 when New Delhi granted parole to the outfit`s general secretary Anup Chetia in the interest of peace talks but jumped it and escaped to Bangladesh.
"First let them shun violence and give up their demand of sovereignty and then we are ready to hold talks with the ULFA," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.
One thing, however, is for sure. Indications are that there is something positive brewing inside the four walls of the Guwahati jail with the government trying for a breakthrough.
"We have not made the breakthrough yet, but the process has begun," the chief minister said.
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