Open talks with ULFA: Assam citizen`s conclave
Guwahati: A citizen`s conclave in Assam Saturday urged New Delhi to begin peace talks with the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) by discussing its core demand of sovereignty or independence.
"Let the government discuss all the core demands of the ULFA so that all issues could be dealt with in detail," convenor of the Citizen`s Forum Hiren Gohain quoted a set of resolutions adopted late Saturday as saying.
"There is no harm in discussing ULFA`s core demands," Gohain said.
The ULFA is waging a war for independence since 1979 and has always maintained that talks if any should revolve around their main demand of sovereignty.
The day-long conclave was organised by the newly floated Citizen`s Forum, an 11-member committee comprising academics, writers, retired police and army officers, rights leaders, and intellectuals.
The other important resolutions adopted include releasing all jailed ULFA leaders to enable them to hold the outfit`s general council meeting to take a decision regarding holding peace talks with the government.
"Till such time the talks are held, the government should stop all legal proceedings against the ULFA leaders," Gohain, a noted academic, said quoting the resolutions.
Saturday`s meeting was attended by more than 1,000 invited guests representing various political parties, student leaders, leading citizens and ethnic groups.
The conclave was held despite ULFA`s elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah rejecting the initiative, saying there can be no compromise on its demand for independence.
"The government should come forward without any delay in opening talks with the ULFA," the resolution added.
Barring Paresh Baruah, the entire top brass of the outfit is in jail. The imprisoned leaders include chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and ULFA political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.
Both the central and state governments had earlier rejected holding talks with the ULFA on the issue of sovereignty, but said they were ready for unconditional talks.
The forum was formed after ULFA vice chairman Pradip Gogoi and publicity chief Mithinga Daimary met leading citizens in the state and appealed for their help in furthering the deadlocked peace process.
The two ULFA leaders are now out on bail after a Guwahati court last month released them from judicial custody.
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