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ULFA-Govt Talks On February 10

GUWAHATI, Feb 5: The banned ULFA on Saturday announced unconditional peace talks with the Centre on February 10 in New Delhi to find an amicable solution to their 31-year- long armed struggle.

Terming the first round of talks as a ‘courtesy call’, senior ULFA leader Sasadhar Choudhury told reporters here that the outfit ‘would like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be pre-sent during the talks on Thursday as he represents Assam in Parliament’.

Asked whether ULFA’s core demand of ‘˜sovereignty for Assam’ would be discussed, Choudhury avoiding a direct reply said, ‘We have decided to go for unconditional talks. Through talks, the process for resolution of Assam’s problems will be started.’

‘Respecting the wishes of the people of Assam and the Jatiya Abhibartan (intellectuals), we have decided to go for talks,’ he said.

ULFA is yet to select its leaders to participate in the discussions.

‘Though the ULFA’s agenda for the meeting has not yet been worked out, it will have all the problems of Assam,’ he said.

The decision to hold peace talks with the Centre was taken at the ULFA’s executive committee and general council meetings this week, he added.

Agreeing to unconditional talks means the ULFA’s terms ‘“ negotiating in a third country, including the issue of Assam’s sovereignty on the agenda and holding talks under UN mediation ‘“ are no longer applicable. ‘Preconditions set by both sides (ULFA and government) had stood in the way of peace talks since 1993. We decided to take the first step in removing the hurdle,’ said Choudhury.

On the elusive Barua, Choudhury said his opposition to the talks was an ‘˜individual’ stand that did not mean a split in the outfit. ‘We don’t think he will throw a spanner in the proposed peace talks. We invited him to attend the central council and general council meetings. Though he did not respond, we have sent him the resolutions adopted by the general council headed by our chairman (Arabinda Rajkhowa),’ he added.

The ULFA also said that disciplinary action might be taken against Paresh Barua.

Talking to the media, ULFA central publicity Secretary Mithinga Daimary hinted that a disciplinary action is likely to be taken up against its defiant commander-in-chief Paresh Barua. Mithinga Daimary said this while formally announcing the outfit’s decision to sit for unconditional talks with New Delhi starting from February 10.

‘Our central executive committee and general council resolved to sit for unconditional talks with the government, and this is in keeping in tune with the wishes of the people of Assam as reflected in the resolutions of a citizen’s convention last year,’ Daimary said here.

Daimary, addressing the ULFA’s first media conference after their top leaders’ release from jail, admitted that continuing with the armed struggle would be suicidal. Keeping him company were the outfit’s general secretary Pradip Gogoi and foreign secretary Sashadhar Choudhury.

‘Given the (changed) political situation in the region, there is every possibility of seeking a military solution turning suicidal. The global situation also plays a major role in determining the success or failure of a struggle,’ Daimary said, reading out the ULFA’s statement.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi security forces today pushed back two top ULFA leaders through the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya where BSF took their custody, official sources said.

ULFA ‘˜captain’ Antu Chaudang and ‘˜second lieutenant’ Pradeep Chetia were pushed back through the Dawki border early on Saturday morning, the sources said

They were being taken to Guwahati by a team of Assam Police.

In an e-mail to the media on December 18 last, ULFA ‘˜publicity secretary’ Arunudoy Dohotia had claimed that these two leaders had been picked up by Indian intelligence agencies in Bangladesh and since then the duo’s whereabouts were not known.

Chaudang was the third top ULFA leader on the run after ‘˜commander-in-chief’ Paresh Barua and ‘˜commander’ Jibon Moran.

Indian security agencies had said earlier that Chaudang was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in December and was undergoing treatment in Bangladesh.

Source: PTI & Newmai News network

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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