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ULFA chief rejects PM's offer for talks
G Vinayak in Guwahati |
December 10, 2004 11:05 IST
Last Updated: December 10, 2004 11:42 IST
Jnanpeeth Award winner and Assamese writer Indira Momoni Raisom Goswami's efforts to mediate between the government and the United Liberation Front of Asom ran into a roadblock on Thursday night.
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The outfit's self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah has rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer for talks.
Three days after the prime minister's office handed a letter to Goswami inviting the ULFA for talks, Baruah shot it down objecting to the "pre-condition" laid down by the government.
"The letter from the PMO is self-contradictory and confusing. It says that the Prime Minister has not put any pre-condition while offering to hold talks with any group prepared to abjure the path of violence… this itself is a pre-condition," Barua, in a statement sent by e-mail to several journalists in Guwahati on Thursday night, said.
Speaking to PTI, Goswami quoted Baruah as saying that it was "not enough" for the government to send a letter signed by the Prime Minister's special advisor, M K Narayanan, calling for talks.
"He insists that the Prime Minister himself sign the letter and talks offer should be completely unconditional", she said.
"I have already talked to Naryanan and discussed about ULFA's insistence for a letter signed by the PM. Naryanan informed me that the PM cannot do so because of protocol but I will continue to ask the government to consider ULFA's request," she said.
Barua had on Wednesday stated through Goswami that he would react to the PM's letter only after discussing the contents with other senior leaders of the outfit.
Goswami, a Delhi University professor of Modern Indian Languages, met Prime Minister Singh on November 16 and conveyed to him that ULFA leader Paresh Barua was willing to talk provided the issue of sovereignty was included in the agenda.
However, Singh stuck to his point that the government was prepared to talk to any group that gave up violence.
The self-styled colonel also complained that the letter from the PMO did not mention anything about the core issue -- sovereignty.
"ULFA has categorically stated that sovereignty should be on the agenda of discussion," Barua said in the e-mailed statement sent from an undisclosed location.
Security agencies say Barua is holed up in Bangladesh.
On Wednesday, ULFA vice-president Pradip Gogoi, currently lodged in Guwahati jail, had said that the prime minister's offer for talks was "nothing but old wine in new bottle."
(With inputs from PTI)
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