Congress keen on talks with ULFA

Manan Kumar

NEW DELHI: Peace talks with the top leaders of banned United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) is on the cards and may begin in the month of January, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said here on Saturday.

Assam’s Congress-led government is keen to have peace talks with Ulfa as it is expected to favour them during the Assembly elections due next year. “I think the talks with Ulfa will start by January.

Things are going on in a positive direction,” said Gogoi adding that Centre’s interlocutor P C Haldar is on the final stages of inking modalities for talks before initiating the process.

Gogoi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram to brief them about the prevailing situation in Assam and the proposed talks.

To facilitate their participation in the peace talks, the Assam government has already decided not to oppose the bail pleas of top Ulfa leaders, including its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who are currently lodged in jail.

“Release of Ulfa leaders are not in our hands but in courts.

But we will not oppose their bail applications,” Gogoi said.

To instil faith in the Ulfa leadership and make the atmosphere conducive, the government did not oppose the bail plea of Ulfa’s Deputy Commander- in-Chief Raju Baruah who was released from the central jail on Saturday in Guwahati.

Raju was under arrest on account of two TADA cases and a CBI case.

“A positive atmosphere has already been created with the government not opposing our bail and we hope a respectable solution will be soon found,” Baruah said in Assam while arriving to his home in Charia in Nalbari district.

He added that Ulfa believes if the people are not involved in the talk process, there can be no permanent solution to the problem.