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Govt Waiting For Communication From ULFA For Talks: Gogoi

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday  said there are positive signals from the ULFA leadership for peace talks except its elusive 'military chief' Paresh Barua.  "Attempts have been made for talks from our side.
PTI January 01, 2010 18:20 IST
PTI

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday  said there are positive signals from the ULFA leadership for peace talks except its elusive 'military chief' Paresh Barua. 

"Attempts have been made for talks from our side. Unless we get formal communication from the ULFA how can we have talks? But positive signals are there from most of the ULFA leaders except 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Barua," Gogoi said. 

"If Paresh Barua comes for the parleys, well and good. If he does not come, it's all right. Most of their cadres are for talks," he told reporters. 

Asked if the government would release ULFA 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa for the talks as he had said discussions were not possible with handcuffs, Gogoi replied, "When they come for discussions, we will talk with full dignity."  

Asked whether the sovereignty issue would be discussed at the talks, he said, "There is no point wasting time on sovereignty. People have rejected the issue in all the elections. So why should they discuss it." 

When asked whether an alternate issue of a special Kashmir-like status for Assam be discussed, he said, "Let them raise the issue then we will see if it is in the interest of Assam."  

Maintaining that insurgency was on the wane, he said, "Top ULFA leaders, including Rajkhowa, were caught and are in police custody. There is realisation among the insurgent groups about the futility of continuing their armed struggle."

"Demoralised, a large number of cadres have come to the mainstream. Lots of them from the ULFA, NDFB, DHD, UPDS, etc., are surrendering. It is a good sign," Gogoi said.

"The people of Assam have completely lost their faith on insurgents realising they will lead to backwardness of the state and problems hampering development. They have the courage to speak out now. Militants have realised that people condemn them," he said.

Pointing out that the government did not want to go for a confrontation with the outlawed separatist group, he warned, "Whenever necessary we will take action. Where I have to be soft, I will be and hard when circumstances compel.

"I want to give this message as the government has to run and accordingly take effective measures."

Noting the state elections scheduled for 2011 would not be brought forward, Gogoi in a lighter vein said, "I am not thinking of retirement. Seeing people's support, I feel more young." PTI