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ULFA moves towards peace talks with government


Guwahati : In a step towards formal peace talks between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the government, the outlawed separatist group’s central executive is set to meet this week to work out modalities for the negotiations.

The central executive is expected to be held in the next couple of days in the western Assam district of Nalbari and all the top ULFA leaders are scheduled to take part, a senior ULFA leader told IANS.

Among those taking part in the meeting will be ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, vice chairman Pradep Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, publicity chief Mithinga Daimary, cultural secretary Pranati Deka and octogenarian ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.

All the top eight ULFA leaders have been out on bail now with the government facilitating their release from jail to pave the way for peace talks.

“The central executive would decide on the modalities of peace talks and then the resolutions would be placed before the ULFA general council to give it a formal stamp of approval,” the leader said, requesting not to be named.

“We are confident of the peace process and hope we are able to clinch a mutually acceptable political settlement,” he added.

The ULFA leadership had earlier announced its decision to hold unconditional peace talks with the government but demanded that all the top eight jailed leaders be released.

The only stumbling block is the elusive ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah – believed to be in hiding somewhere on the Myanmar-China border.

“Paresh Baruah is not opposed to the peace process,” Rajkhowa said.

New Delhi has already appointed P.C. Haldar as the peace interlocutor for the talks with the ULFA leadership. Last week they held a preliminary round of meeting in Guwahati.

“We are positive and hopeful,” Rajkhowa said.

More than 10,000 people have lost their lives in Assam in the violence by the ULFA, fighting for an independent, sovereign homeland since 1979. The outlawed outfit was considered one of the most organised rebel armies in the region.