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Govt open to talks with insurgents, says Patil

October 04, 2004 14:50 IST
Last Updated: October 04, 2004 14:53 IST

Describing a series of blasts in Assam over the weekend as "acts of cowardice," Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Monday said the Centre will do everything to support the Assam government. He also said the Union government is open to the idea of holding talks with insurgent groups, including the United Liberation Front of Asom.

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Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Patil said: "If anybody comes with any condition and wants to hold talks, we will not accept. The talks should be held without any conditions."

According to official figures, there have been 15 blasts and three incidents of firing in the state in the last three days. At least 36 people have been killed and 194 injured in these incidents.

Asked whether the government is willing to hold talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom, he said: "We have not closed the doors for talks, but it is our duty to save human lives and innocent people."

Patil said a multi-pronged strategy is being worked out to check terrorism in the state. He said there is a proposal to appoint a nodal officer in every state in the northeast to coordinate anti-terrorism operations.

The home minister said the Assam government has asked for more security forces.

Asked whether the twin blasts in Nagaland on Saturday were aimed at derailing the peace process, Patil replied in the negative and said stern measures will be take in that state too against those indulging in violent activities.

Earlier, Patil, accompanied by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, and top officials of the home ministry, visited the violence-hit areas of lower Assam to take stock of the situation.


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