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After 30 years, ULFA to give peace a chance

February 05, 2011 15:26 IST

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam will meet Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi on February 10 to discuss modalities for the peace talks that is on the anvil between the outfit and the government.

Talking to the media for the first time after the outfit decided to hold an unconditional dialogue with the government in its general council meeting on January 30, the leadership of the outfit said that Chidambaram had invited them for the meeting. It would be a prelude to the formal discussion that would take place after the ULFA submits its charter of demands before the government.

They will also seek an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The ULFA leaders said the outfit took the decision to hold an unconditional dialogue with the government in response to the wishes of the people of Assam, on the basis of its experiences from the 30-year-long 'armed revolution' that resulted in the death of thousands of people. 

"We have realised that adamantly sticking to the armed struggle to find a solution may turn out to be suicidal," the outfit said.

ULFA 'foreign secretary' Sasadhar Choudhury, 'vice-chairman' Pradip Gogoi and central publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary said that the 'general council' of the ULFA, which held his first meeting in the last 15 years, approved the decision of the outfit's central executive council headed by 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa to go for unconditional talks to find a negotiated political solution to the 'Assam-India conflict'.

"The general council's decision has been conveyed to commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and senior executive council member Jibon Moran, who could not attend the meeting. The general council meeting was attended by leaders of most of the ULFA battalions and a large number of cadres. It took the decision to hold a dialogue with the government with two-third majority as required by ULFA's constitution," Choudhury said.

"The decision of the general council is binding on Paresh Barua. We are expecting his response to it. Anyone who defies the decision of the general council will face disciplinary action as per the ULFA's constitution," he added.

When queried about Paresh Barua's declaration through the media that there would be no talks unless the 'demand for sovereignty of Assam' is not on the agenda, the ULFA leaders said Barua had made the statement before the 'general council' decided to hold a dialogue with the government sans any condition.

The ULFA said its charter of demands for formal dialogue with the government was being prepared and it would be made public as soon as it was ready.

K Anurag in Guwahati