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ULFA leaders to meet Dr Singh on Feb 14

By Onkar Singh
February 10, 2011 19:10 IST
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An eight-member delegation of the United Liberation Front of Asom, led by leader Arabind Rajkhowa, will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. The ULFA delegation will brief Dr Singh about the on-going talks between the Centre and the militant outfit.

ULFA leaders on Thursday met Home Minister P Chidambaram and Home Secretary G K Pillai in Delhi.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, ULFA 'foreign secretary' Shasha Chaudhary admitted that Paresh Baruah, chief of the proscribed outfit, had opposed the talks.

"Baruah continues to be our leader but his stand would not affect our talks in any way," he said.

He made it clear that the ULFA had no plans to contest the state assembly elections. "We have no role in the elections," he asserted.

Speaking to rediff.com, Chaudhary admitted that the people of Assam were fed up of the violence and they wanted peace now.

"Yes, the people of Assam want peace and we are looking for a just and honourable political solution to the 30-year-old insurgency. Nobody wants to live a jungle life. We want the government of India to make an offer for a ceasefire and then we would respond," he said.

On whether the ban on the outfit should be lifted, he said, "This question should be directed to the government. As of today, ULFA is still a banned organisation and all of us are still outlaws".

He claimed that security forces had killed innocent family members of ULFA cadres during search operations. "That forces us to seek shelter in other neighbouring countries," he said.

When asked if Bhutan and Bangladesh, which had once granted refuge to absconding ULFA militants, had betrayed the outfit, Chaudhary refused to comment.

"I am not going to say anything about this," he said.

He said the ULFA was ready to hold talks within the frame-work of the Indian Constitution.

He evaded a query on illegal immigration from Bangladesh, saying, "As an Indian citizen, my response is the same as that of any other citizen of Indian".

According to him, a new set of developments have forced the ULFA to come to the negotiating table.

"Though we have not set any time-frame for the conclusion of the talks and arriving at a just and honourable solution according to the wishes and aspirations of the people of Assam who want peace in the state, we would like these talks to conclude as soon as possible," Chaudhary said.

He praised Chidambaram for his commitment towards finding an amicable solution to the Assam problem, but said that he would not be able to specify the terms for negotiations as it would be decided by the general council of ULFA.

He said that he was aware of the peace talks going on between the Centre and militant outfits in Nagaland, but he was not concerned about it.

"No time-frame has been set for the next round of negotiations," he said, adding that he was satisfied at the outcome of 'ice-breaking' negotiations with the government.

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