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Govt holds peace meet with pro-talk ULFA leaders
Published on 29 Oct. 2009 11:53 PM IST
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The central government Thursday initiated the first round of formal talks with the pro-talk faction of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), brightening hopes that the deadlocked peace process would get a boost. Leaders of the pro-talk ULFA faction held nearly an hour-long meeting with Assistant Director of Intelligence Bureau R.N. Ravi at a secret location in Assam’s main city of Guwahati. Three leaders of the pro-talk faction - Mrinal Hazarika, Prabal Neog and Jiten Dutta - participated in the meet. “This is our first meeting with any central government representative with the discussion ending on a very positive note. We once again reiterated our demands and urged the official to take steps for furthering the peace process,” Hazarika told IANS. The Alpha and Charlie companies of the ULFA’s 28th battalion, the outfit’s most potent striking units, announced a unilateral ceasefire with New Delhi last July. The group later named themselves as the pro-talk ULFA faction. The group has about 200 cadres, all of them now lodged at government-run designated camps. The pro-talk ULFA faction had earlier announced it was giving up its demand for sovereignty or independence and instead wanted greater autonomy for the state. The ULFA faction led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa is still underground. Rajkhowa is believed to be living in exile in Bangladesh. “We are hopeful that if the central government adopts a sincere attitude, peace talks with us could be a turning point in Assam’s insurgency,” Hazarika said. There were no representatives from the state government in Thursday’s meeting. “We hope the home ministry official would go back and brief Home Minister P.C. Chidambaram about the meeting. We believe the central government would begin political level talks with us,” Hazarika said.

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