Talks with ULFA likely in January: Assam CM

The much-awaited peace talks between ULFA and the government is expected to begin next January, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Saturday.

Last Updated: Nov 27, 2010, 21:11 PM IST

New Delhi: The much-awaited peace talks between ULFA and the government is expected to begin next January, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Saturday.

Gogoi said Centre`s interlocutor PC Halder has been
engaged in initial discussion with ULFA leadership and would
finalise the modalities of talks before initiating the
process.

"I think the talks with ULFA will start by January.
Things are going on in a positive direction," he told
reporters here.

Gogoi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home
Minister P Chidambaram in the last two days and briefed them
about the prevailing situation in Assam and the proposed
talks.

To facilitate their participation in peace talks, the
Assam government has already decided not to oppose the bail
pleas of top ULFA leaders, including its chairman Arabinda
Rajkhowa, who are currently lodged in jail.

Apart from Rajkhowa, ULFA`s self-styled general
secretary Chitraban Hazarika and `foreign secretary` Sasha
Choudhary are currently in Assam jails while group`s `vice-
chairman` Pradip Gogoi and other leaders -- Raju Baruah,
Mithinga Daimary and Bhimakanta Burhagohain -- have already
got bails.

"Release of ULFA leaders are not in our hands but in
courts. But we will not oppose their bail applications," Gogoi
said.

Asked whether elusive `commander-in-chief` of ULFA
Paresh Baruah would participate in the proposed talks, the
Chief Minister said "door is open" for him and the government
would not wait for him for indefinite period.

Peace talks with ULFA are expected to give a major
boost to Congress -- which has been ruling Assam for two
consecutive terms -- before the Assembly elections next year.

On the recent violence perpetrated by NDFB which
claimed nearly 20 lives, Gogoi said strict action would be
taken against anyone indulge in violence.

PTI