ULFA ready for talks if New Delhi proposes through PCG


Guwahati : The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Sunday said it was ready to hold peace talks with New Delhi to end close to three decades of insurgency in Assam.

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"We have all along been willing to hold talks for a respectable solution to the problem. We once again reiterate that if any proposal (from New Delhi) for a respectable solution to the problem is routed through the People's Consultative Group (PCG), we are ready to consider," ULFA said in a statement published in its fortnightly newsletter Swadhinata or Freedom.

The ULFA, a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland since 1979, was blamed by police for four separate explosions Saturday that killed four people and wounded 45.

The ULFA has not claimed responsibility for the serial blasts. "The lack of any political solution has resulted in the conflict in Assam turning violent," the ULFA statement said.

The ULFA in September 2005 constituted the PCG, a group of civil society leaders, to begin exploratory talks with New Delhi aimed at facilitating direct negotiations between the rebel leadership and the government.

Three rounds of talks between the PCG and New Delhi took place with the first meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The PCG became defunct as it withdrew itself from the peace process after the central government called off a six-week ceasefire with the ULFA in September last year and resumed military operations blaming the outfit of stepping up violence and extortions.

The ULFA had earlier set certain preconditions for holding talks with New Delhi – the main demand being that the government agrees to hold discussion on the issue of sovereignty or independence. The central government has refused to talk on the issue of independence.

"If the government really wants to see peace in Assam they can very well amend the constitution to discuss sovereignty with us. The government has all along been saying that nothing could be discussed outside the constitutional parameters," the rebel group said.

The ULFA also suggested a referendum on the issue on independence under UN supervision. "Such a thing has happened elsewhere and so what is the problem to hold a referendum here?" the statement said.