Assam govt not to oppose bail pleas of ULFA leaders

New Delhi, Nov 7 : To facilitate their participation in peace talks, the Assam government has decided not to oppose the bail pleas of top ULFA leaders, including its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who are currently lodged in jail. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said his government was sincerely working to initiate the dialogue process with the ULFA and hence the prosecution will not oppose bail pleas of any of the top ULFA leaders.

Apart from Rajkhowa, ULFA's self-styled general secretary Chitraban Hazarika and self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhary are currently in Assam jails while outfit's 'vice-chairman' Pradip Gogoi and two other leaders -- Mithinga Daimary and Bhimakanta Burhagohain -- have already got bails.

'Deputy commander-in-chief' Raju Baruah is expected to be released from prison soon as the state government has not opposed his bail plea.

"Release of ULFA leaders are not in our hands but in courts. But we will not oppose their bail applications," Gogoi said at a press conference in New Delhi.

The Chief Minister, however, made it clear that such leniency would not be shown to all arrested ULFA cadres as many of them are involved in heinous crimes.

Gogoi said that if all top ULFA leaders come out of jail, the peace dialogue could be started by early next year.

Peace talks with ULFA are expected to give a major boost to Congress party -- which has been ruling Assam for two consecutive terms -- before the Assembly elections next year.

Gogoi had earlier said former Intelligence Bureau chief P C Haldar, who was appointed as interlocutor, would finalise the modalities of talks before initiating the peace process with ULFA leadership.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had said on Monday that he had left it to the Assam Chief Minister to decide when and how the talks should begin with ULFA leadership.

"The Chief Minister of Assam is in touch with ULFA leaders or other way round -- the ULFA leaders are in touch with the Chief Minister of Assam. So, when the offer for talks will be made by ULFA, I am sure the Chief Minister will decide," he had said.