Plea made for peace talks between ULFA, government

February 17th, 2008 - 5:02 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Guwahati, Feb 17 (IANS) A plea for peace talks between the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the government has been made even though major reverses were faced by the rebel group in recent weeks. “We call upon both the ULFA and the government to start peace talks without any preconditions for the greater interest of Assam and its people,” Dhrupad Borgohain, Secretary of the Communist Party of India’s Assam State Council, said.

Borgohain said: “Repressive measures will prove to be counter-productive and that may plunge the state into chaos.”

The possibility of the authorities concerned taking a fresh look at starting peace dialogue with the ULFA started doing the rounds after Friday’s visit to capital Guwahati by a high-level central team headed by cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar.

Chandrasekhar and his team reviewed the security situation with the Unified Command in Assam besides state officials. The visit assumed significance in view of the possible plane hijack bid by the ULFA, a claim that the rebel group has denied.

Last week, the Assam police unearthed a plot by the ULFA to hijack an aircraft. “The hijack plot was indeed real. We are piecing together the links in the plot and are likely to get to the entire plan hatched by the ULFA in this regard,” Assam police chief R. N. Mathur said.

Call for peace talks have intensified despite the fact that the authorities have recently arrested Lachit Bordoloi, a member of the ULFA-appointed peace panel.

The People’s Consultative Group (PCG), of which Bordoloi is a member, has said the arrest looks like an attempt to ensure that the peace process does not get back on track.

The PCG, appointed by the ULFA in 2005, has held three rounds of exploratory talks with the central government to prepare the ground for possible direct talks with the rebel leadership. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended one of the meetings.

Going by the popular mood for peace talks, Assam chief Tarun Gogoi Sunday said “doors for talks were open”. “We want a political settlement to the ULFA problems and they should respond positively. But one thing is for sure, the government is not going to discuss the ULFA’s demand for sovereignty or independence,” the chief minister told IANS. “The anti-ULFA offensive would continue.”

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