Assam toughens stand on talks with ULFA

June 18th, 2008 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, June 18 (IANS) The Assam government Wednesday virtually sealed any hope for peace talks with the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi putting five pre-conditions for negotiations, including surrender of arms by the rebel outfit before any ceasefire. “For any talks or ceasefire, the militants must surrender arms and stay in designated camps, and talks should be held directly without any mediators. Moreover, the militants will not be allowed to collect any donations during the ceasefire period and talks should be held within the ambit of the Indian constitution,” the chief minister told journalists here.

Gogoi also denied media reports about a ceasefire between the ULFA’s 28th battalion, the most potent striking wing of the outfit, and the government.

“Till today there is no ceasefire with the ULFA,” the chief minister said.

The ULFA has in recent months faced heavy reverses during anti-insurgency operations, losing about 70 cadres so far this year.

“The ULFA has definitely lost its support base. There is no doubt about it,” Gogoi said.

New Delhi entered into a ceasefire with the ULFA in August 2005 although the truce collapsed after six weeks with the central government blaming the outfit of carrying out violent acts and extorting money during the ceasefire period.

“The experience in the past (about the ceasefire) was not good,” the chief minister said.

The belligerent posture of the chief minister comes in the wake of the ULFA facing reverses in anti-insurgency operations, besides security forces being able to block most of the exit and entry routes the militants take to enter Assam from bases in Myanmar.

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