Guwahati: ULFA on Friday demanded release of
its six jailed leaders to take the talks process forward and
asserted that the group had never said it will hold
discussions without its `commander in chief` Paresh Baruah.
ULFA `publicity secretary` Mithinga Daimary said in a
statement, issued after the meeting of eight members of the
group`s `general council` at the Guwahati Central Jail, that
the political process of talks could proceed only if the
jailed leaders were released.
"We welcome Union Home Minister P Chidambaram`s
announcement of the need for political process in the state
followed by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his cabinet`s
decision to hold talks," Daimary said.
According to him, ULFA could take a decision on the
political settlement of the state`s problems only when its
15-member general council could meet. This would be possible
when the jailed leaders were released.
On Baruah, he said at no point of time "have we
said that talks could be held without him.
"Any decision on this has to be taken by the general
council and neither has the Citizen`s Forum taken a stand on
this. Therefore, we appeal to the people not to be misled or
be confused regarding this matter."
Chief Minister Gogoi had earlier said that talks could
proceed whether Baruah participated or not as "we cannot wait
for him indefinitely".
Daimary further said that the topmost priority should
be now on creating a congenial atmosphere for talks and "we
believe that a politically negotiated settlement can bring
permanent solution to Assam`s problems.
"We believe that if a sincere and dedicated effort is
made overcoming narrow political interests, the state`s
problems can be solved and we are genuinely keen for a
negotiated settlement of the issue."
Daimary and the group`s `vice chairman` Pradip Gogoi,
who were recently released on bail today met their `chairman`
Arabinda Rajkhowa, `advisor` Bhimakanta Buragohain, `deputy
commander-in-chief` Raju Barua, `foreign secretary` Sashadhar
Choudhury, `finance secretary` Chitrabon Hazarika and
`cultural secretary` Pranati Hazarika.
Three of the 15-member general council are missing
since Bhutan operations in 2003 while another member Robin
Handique died in Tezpur jail after he was brought there
after the operations.
ULFA `general secretary` Anup Chetia is in a
Bangladesh jail and only two members -- Paresh Baruah and
Jibon Moran are at large.