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Time to end violence in Assam: PM
October 26, 2005 19:51 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the government is willing to discuss 'all issues bothering' Assam but within the framework of the Constitution.
The prime minister, who attended a historic meeting between the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom -selected People's Consultative Group and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, said the time has come to end violence in the northeastern state.
Briefing the media after the meeting in which the contentious issues of sovereignty and ceasefire is believed to have been raised, the PM's media advisor Sanjaya Baru said, "The prime minister said he is willing to discuss all issues bothering the people in Assam."
Quoting the prime minister, Baru said, 'I am willing to listen (to) whatever concerns that you made. I am a servant of our Constitution and you should recognise the complexity of our polity.'
Arup Borbora, a member of the 11-member PCG, said it was agreed at the meeting that the nearly three-decade long conflict 'could be resolved through political negotiations and peace dialogue'.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who attended the meeting which lasted two hours 20 minutes, said the prime minister was 'not afraid' to discuss any issue but had to work within the framework of the Constitution.
"It is a good message to ULFA, I hope they will respond," he said.
Borbora described the talks as 'absolutely congenial, open minded and heart-to-heart' and said similar rounds would take place 'in the near future rather than in the distant future'.
Official sources said the next round of talks would be held with the Home Ministry but no time frame had been fixed yet.
Quoting the prime minister, Baru said, 'The time has come to end violence. Let us work together to bring a glorious chapter for the people of Assam.'
The meeting was held in two sessions, the first attended by the PCG, Narayanan and top home ministry officials in which Gogoi also joined.
The prime minister attended the second session, Borbora said. While it was not officially stated what issues were discussed, sources said ceasefire and ULFA's demand for sovereignty were also discussed.
"We have expressed our view point. The Government of India also expressed its view. It was basically at a preliminary stage and Manmohan Singhji said the government is prepared to discuss all the issues that the PCG brings forward or the ULFA has been pushing through the PCG.
"We are hopeful that things will proceed in right direction in right direction to facilitate a lasting and permanent political settlement of the long conflict," he said.Gogoi said that the prime minister was 'very keen' to bring peace and prosperity to the northeast and asked the PCG to prepare the ground so that ULFA comes to the talks table.