Talks with ULFA hold `good future`: PM

PM Singh downplayed threats to the Congress issued by Paresh Barua ahead of Assam Assembly polls.

Updated: Feb 19, 2011, 22:31 PM IST

Jorhat: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asserted that peace talks with the ULFA held a "good future" and downplayed the threats to the Congress
issued by the outfit`s Paresh Barua faction ahead of Assam
Assembly polls.

"Both the government and the ULFA are committed to
take the peace process forward and the process is on to bring
other underground outfits of the North East to the
negotiating table," Singh said in a brief interaction with
journalists at the Circuit House.

The Prime Minister said that his meeting with the ULFA
leadership, led by its Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, in New
Delhi "had a very good beginning and its future will also be

Asked about today`s threat to the Congress by the
anti-talk Paresh Barua faction, the Prime Minister said
that those who are "now issuing such threats are away from
India and are not aware of the ground realities".

"If they have given threats, necessary steps and
precautions will be taken by the agencies concerned but I
don`t think they will carry it out," he said.

Accusing the Congress of attempting to create a
division within the outfit, the Paresh Barua faction has
threatened to launch an "armed struggle" and called for a
boycott of meetings by party leaders.

The Prime Minister said that ULFA Chairman had assured
him that there would be no such incidents or disturbances
during the assembly elections due in May.

He said peace had returned to the state and Assam had
developed economically due to several flagship schemes
initiated by his government.

Referring to the Assam Gas Cracker Project in Upper
Assam`s Dibrugarh district, Singh said that it would go a long
way in solving the unemployment problem in the state.

On the issue of corruption, the Prime Minister said
that it will not be tolerated and action will be definitely
taken against those found guilty.

Referring to the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council
Funds Diversion Scam, the Prime Minister said action has
already been initiated with the National Investigation Agency
filing charge sheet against 16 persons.

"There will be no compromise on the issue and the
guilty will be punished," he asserted.

Asked about the demand for Scheduled Tribe status by
six backward communities, the Prime Minister said that the
Panchayati Raj was serving the purpose of safeguarding the
traditional aspirations of these people.

"We have provided an additional package of Rs 250
crore to the Bodoland Territorial Council and we will also
provide similar packages to the other autonomous councils",
he said.

The Prime Minister also highlighted various measures
to tackle the problem of erosion in the state. When
journalists pointed out that timely survey of work progress
was not conducted by the central officers, he said that
he would take up the matter with the concerned departments
after returning to Delhi.

The Prime Minister said his mind was always in Assam
and the North-East and that he was keen to see the region
developed and strong.