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ULFA extortion demands to be discussed
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Now for the ULFA to talk peace

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July 09, 2006 17:38 IST

With instances of extortion by the United Liberation Front of Asom on the rise, the Union home secretary will discuss the situation with Assam's chief secretary on Monday.

The meeting assumes significance in the wake of Assam police claiming that the extortion notice for Rs 15 lakh slapped by the ULFA on the Guwahati-based Reserve Bank of India [Get Quote] regional director was 'genuine'.

Sources in the Home Ministry told PTI on Sunday that Home Secretary V K Duggal and Chief Secretary S Kabilan will review the situation in the backdrop of extortion notices from the ULFA.

The letter to the RBI official, which was recently delivered to security guards at the RBI Officers Colony in Guwahati, is being examined and various aspects of the matter are being probed.

Considering the 'relatively small amount (of Rs 15 lakh) in comparison to crores of rupees that the outfit normally demands, it is obvious that lower cadres of the ULFA are involved and they have the clearance and signature from
the top brass', a state government source said.

This is the second instance in recent times of a central government organisation being asked by the ULFA to pay up. Last year, the banned outfit had demanded Rs 500 crore from the ONGC [Get Quote], which has drilling operations and establishments in several parts of Assam.

The ULFA activities did not match the spirit of the proposed peace process, sources said, adding the rebels could not expect to participate in negotiations and carry on illegal activities at the same time.

They added that parleys with the state government on release of five ULFA leaders would be initiated only after the group accepts certain conditions.

During the talks between the government and the ULFA-nominated Peoples' Consultative Group on June 22, the Centre agreed to 'consider favourably' the release of five top ULFA leaders and to work out modalities for holding 'direct' talks with the banned group within a fixed time frame.

The assurance on considering the release of the five detained leaders, including ULFA vice chairman Pradip Gogoi,
was given by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil during the third round of talks with the PCG.

Besides Gogoi, the militants who are likely to be freed are ULFA cultural secretary Pranati Deka, publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary, executive committee member Ramu Mech and ideologue Bhimakanta Buragohain.

Simultaneously, the Home Minister urged PCG to impress on ULFA the need to ensure a peaceful and conducive
environment so that direct talks with the government are held at the earliest.

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