ULFA chief released on bail, says ready for talks

Last Updated: Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 23:32

Guwahati: ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa
on Saturday walked free from jail on bail and declared his readiness
for an "unconditional" peace dialogue with the Assam
government, which hinted that the ban on the outfit may be
lifted ahead of the talks.

"We are committed to peace in Assam and take the peace
process forward. We are ready for unconditional peace talks,"
the 54-year-old ULFA leader told his supporters outside the
Gauhati Central Jail, where he was lodged for over a year.
He was released two days after a designated TADA court
ordered his release on bail.

"I would like to make it clear that we will take the
people with us in what ever decisions we take. We will no
longer do any thing subversively or secretly," the ULFA chief
assured later in the day at a rally in Darrang district.

He also said that there are no ideological differences
in the insurgent outfit over the peace talks issue and that
his `commander-in-chief` Paresh Baruah was never opposed to
any parleys with the central government.

"Let me make it clear that there will be no division
in the ULFA over the peace talks issue or difference among
various communities," Rajkhowa said.

He was released two days after a designated TADA court
ordered his release on bail.

Rajkhowa asked ULFA cadres not to create divisions in
the ranks and appealed to people not to be "restless" over the
issue of peace talks.

He, however, appealed for the release of ULFA central
council members Sasha Choudhury and Chitraban Hazarika as well
to enable them to participate in a meeting to decide on the
peace talks

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the
ban on ULFA could be lifted, if necessary.

"The majority of ULFA leaders have come forward for
peace talks. Only one section has still remained opposed to
talks and is still indulging in violence."
Gogoi warned the anti-talks faction that operations
against them would not stop.

Rajkhowa was received at the jail premises by his
elder brother Dimbo Rajkhowa and other family members.

As people waited to catch his glimpse on the streets,
he attended several public receptions on way to his home town
Lakhuwa in upper Assam, which he will be visiting after a gap
of 30 years.

The ULFA chairman, like a VIP, would be guarded by
policemen at all times with the respective district
administrations providing him security whenever he was in
their area, official sources said.

Rajkhowa, 54, went underground after the formation of
the ULFA on April 7, 1979.

He was arrested after being handed over by the
Bangladesh authorities in November last year at the Meghalaya
border.

Rajkhowa is the senior-most ULFA leader to be released
after the earlier release of the outfit`s self-styled
vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju
Baruah, cultural secretary Pranati Deka and publicity
secretary Mithinga Daimary as also senior leader and political
ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain on bail.

Rajkhowa thanked the people of Assam saying that his
release from prison was possible only because the people
wanted a political solution to the ULFA issue.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 23:32

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