PM hopeful of peace initiatives in Assam: Gogoi

Last Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 22:31

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
is "hopeful" of a positive outcome of the Assam government`s
efforts in ending the decades-old insurgency in the state,
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said.

"The Prime Minister is very hopeful of the peace
initiatives. He is hopeful of a positive outcome," Gogoi told
PTI, a day after the government gave its "green signal" to the
peace talks with the banned ULFA and former Intelligence
Bureau chief P C Haldar agreed to act as interlocutor.

Asked to elaborate about the "green signal", he
refused to divulge details saying, "I got something very good
from somebody very important.

"The interlocutor will talk to them. We will also
talk. Then we will move. But there will be no talks on
sovereignty demand of the outfit. The talks will be held as
per provisions of the Constitution."

He said Singh has also agreed to meet a delegation of
Assamese intellectuals who have been playing a key role in
initiating talks with the group.

Gogoi on Tuesday had briefed Singh about his
government`s initiatives to hold dialogue with the banned
group.

"We are moving in the right direction. It is a good
beginning and we want to move step-by-step," Gogoi, who met
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram yesterday, told reporters
earlier.

Asked whether talks will be fruitful without group`s
military chief Paresh Baruah, he said "if the government can
bring 70 per cent of the ULFA leaders to peace process than
why should we wait for.

"If he (Barua) comes, it is well and good. Otherwise
we will go ahead. As of today, he is not keen on talks," he
said, adding the prime minister also asked about Barua.

"I got positive response (from ULFA). Out of 18
leaders, nine are in custody in Assam and nine are abroad. We
are trying to rope in those who are not in Assam including
Paresh Barua," he said.

According to him, Assam government will provide
"facilities" to jailed ULFA leaders in Assam so that they
could hold discussion among themselves.

On whether the government was considering freeing some
ULFA leaders currently lodged in jails, he said only courts
can decide about the issue.

"We cannot free the jailed leaders. Only courts can
decide on the issue. But we will provide all the facilities so
that they can talk among themselves," he said.

Noting that he was not expecting a "miracle" about the
peace initiatives, Gogoi said "Barua must read the writing on
the wall."

Replying to a question whether state government would
provide safe passage to Barua if he wants to come to Assam for
the peace efforts, the Assam Chief Minister said government
would be willing to consider such gesture.

Queried whether government would halt military
operation against ULFA, Gogoi said there was no question of
even slowing down the operations against rebels.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 22:31

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