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ULFA talks may begin in next few wks: Interlocutor

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 15:32

Guwahati: Hopes of holding formal peace talks
with the banned ULFA has brightened with the Centre`s
interlocutor on Wednesday indicating that the dialogue may begin in
the next few weeks, ahead of the Assam Assembly polls.

Centre`s interlocutor P C Haldar said the government and
the ULFA leadership were inching closer to start the parleys
for bringing a lasting peace into the Northeastern state.

"We have moved a little further. Now, I think, we are
closer to the stage where we should start the formal peace
process," Haldar, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau,
said here.

Peace talks with ULFA may give a political boost to
Congress party -- which has been ruling Assam for the past ten
years -- before the Assembly elections likely to be held in
April-May.

"There are one or two things which remain to be tied up.
It should be done in course of the next few days, few weeks,"
Haldar said.

Top ULFA leaders, including the outfit`s `chairman`
Arabinda Rajkhowa, have been released from jail recently after
Assam government did not oppose their bail applications --
ostensibly to facilitate their participation in peace talks.

ULFA `general secretary` Anup Chetia, languishing in jail
in Dhaka since December 1997, is also likely to be handed over
to India, possibly before April, to allow him to take part in
the peace process.

Apart from Rajkhowa, ULFA`s `deputy commander-in-chief`
Raju Baruah, `vice-chairman` Pradip Gogoi and two other
leaders -- Mithinga Daimary and Bhimakanta Burhagohain -- have
already got bail.

`General secretary` Chitraban Hazarika and self-styled
foreign secretary Sasha Choudhary are still in a jail here
after their arrest along with Rajkhowa along the Indo-Bangla
border in Meghalaya in December 2009.

However, ULFA`s elusive `commander-in-chief` Paresh Baruah
is still opposed to holding any talks with the government.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently said that if
Baruah came forward for talks, the government would welcome
him but would not wait for him for an indefinite period.

The ULFA wants to hold its `general council` meeting
before entering the peace process which is likely to be
allowed by the government, even though it is still an outlawed
outfit.

ULFA, which was formed on April 7, 1979, in the Upper
Assam town of Sibsagar, was declared a banned organisation by
the Union Home Ministry in November 1990 under the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 15:32

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