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ULFA: First Round Of Trust Building Starts, Paresh Baruah Still Identified As C-in-C, ‘Not A Hindrance To Peace Talk’

Pro-talk ULFA leaders and P Chidambaram. Image Credit: Sangai Photo.

NEW DELHI, Feb 10: Straight after the first meeting today with Home Minister P Chidambaram and Home Secretary GK PIllai, to kick start the much awaited peace talk between the top leaders of ULFA and GOI, General Secretary of the outfit, Pradip Gogoi, Finance Secretary Chitraban Hazarika and Foreign Secretary Sashadhar Choudhary briefed the media at the Press Club of India.

Addressing the media at the jam packed conference hall of the Delhi Press Club here today evening, Choudhary said the first meeting with the Home Ministry officials was an “ice breaking exercise” to continue the peace process.

“Primarily it was a trust building process and nothing substantial was discussed. The agenda is yet to be formulated” informed the outfit’s ‘Foreign Secretary’ and added “We are meeting the Prime Minister next Monday”

On the question of dropping the demand or failure to mention the term ‘sovereign’ State and the unconditional talks, the leader stated that the agenda will be a ‘people’s agenda’.

Stating that the three resolutions formulated by the National Convention, an umbrella body of over 100 organizations comprising of civil society organizations and noted personalities still stands, Choudhury said that unconditional talk agreement was one of the resolutions.  The other resolutions included freeing detained ULFA cadres and that ULFA will honor the proposal, which will further be substantiated into an agenda.

Asked whether ULFA will participate in electoral politics, Choudhary said that presently that is not on the agenda of ULFA.  While maintaining that there are problems both internal and external, the foreign secretary informed that Paresh Baruah is still the Commander in Chief. On the issue of honorable and amicable solution, Chowdhary quoted Home Minister P Chidambaram who had earlier said “The Constitution of India is flexible and resilient enough to accommodate the aspirations of the people of the North Eastern region.”  On matters of decision making process and agenda regarding the peace talk Choudhary said “the General Council is the authority.”

With several peace process/talk going on such as the one with the NSCN (IM) for over decades, Choudhary said “we can’t say but it should not be too long”.  The ULFA Foreign Secretary told the media that ULFA had not been in close touch with NSCN and that it is up to the NSCN to decide their own course.  Stating that ULFA is still outlawed, the Indian Government should be questioned on matters related to international laws.  On matters such as illegal migration the stand should be taken by the Indian Government.  Ethnic reconciliations should not be taken up by ULFA alone but by the people of Assam.  Whether Paresh Baruah’s anti-talk stand will affect the peace talk, “no” said the foreign secretary.   The delegate stated that the first meeting with the Home Minister and officials of the Home Ministry and was cordial and honorable. The ULFA leadership was assured by the Home Minister that on all possible terms GOI will talk sincerely and aim to solve this ongoing conflict through negotiation.

*Reported by Ninglun Hanghal.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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