Signs of peace talks with ULFA; Gogoi favours safe passage

Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 18:57

Guwahati/New Delhi: Signs of peace talks
with the ULFA emerged today with the Assam Chief Minister
Tarun Gogoi favouring safe passage to its leaders and the
chief of the banned militant outfit Arabinda Rajkhowa
indicating he was ready for negotiations.

However, still there was no clarity about whether
Rajkhowa has been brought to India for possible negotiations
to end the 17-year-long violent movement in the north east,
especially Assam.

There was no official word on that while Rajkhowa
himself claimed to a television channel that he was speaking
from Bangladesh.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who told Parliament
yesterday that ULFA may come out with a statement in the next
few days, refused to discuss the issue with the media, which
he said was creating "more confusion" necessary by speculative
reports.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Gogoi said
that "signals" were encouraging and things were moving in the
right direction.

"A good development is taking place. That
is the signal I`m getting. It`s moving in the right direction
....Signals (from ULFA) are encouraging," he said.

Asked whether Assam government will offer safe passage
to top ULFA leaders if they come for talks, the Chief Minister
said I am for it."

Gogoi appealed to the ULFA leaders including the
outfit`s `commander in chief` Paresh Barua to come for talks.

He said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke to him
on Rajakhowa`s detention but did not not give him details.
"All I can tell you is that some breakthrough has happened."

53-year-old Rajkhowa, who had in the early 90s backed
out of negotiations with the Centre at the last minute,
appeared to be ready for talks.

"We do not want our revolution to end but there should
be a peaceful solution to it, preferably in a Constitution
way. I want peace talks to restart and conclude...That is why
I have come forward to carry on my agenda," he told television
channels, claiming to speak from Bangladesh.

He said the reports about his "arrest" were aimed at
creating confusion and derailing the peace process in Assam.

Appealing to the media to exercise restraint,
Chidambaram said by speculative reports it was only creating
more confusion than was necessary.

Refusing to give any details, he said he had said in
Parliament yesterday "and "whatever I need to say, I will say
at the appropriate moment."

Meanwhile, reports from Shillong said there were
differences within the ULFA`s top leadership and that Paresh
Barua was opposed to the peace talks. The dissident group
might even set off blasts to convey their dissatisfaction over
the arrest of leaders in Bangladesh.

An ULFA leader told reporters in Guwahati that peace
talks would not be realistic without Barua and that the
demand for sovereignty cannot be given up.

"It is possible to hold talks within the framework of
the Constitution but talks without Barua would be unrealistic
and would not solve the problem.

"Sovereignty must the basis for talks. Whether it
will be achieved or not, future alone can tell," ULFA
`public secretary` Mithinga Daimary told reporters.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 18:57

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