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ULFA executive discusses modalities for peace talks
GUWAHATI, JAN 20 (IANS/PTI):
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Published on 20 Jan. 2011 10:37 PM IST
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The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Thursday began its central executive meeting aimed at working out modalities for opening formal peace talks with the government.
The meet is being held at Choria village in the western Assam district of Nalbari with the group’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa chairing the meeting.
Apart from Rajkhowa, those taking part in the meeting include vice chairman Pradeep Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, publicity chief Mithinga Daimary, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and octogenarian political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.
All the top eight ULFA leaders are out on bail now with the government facilitating their release from jail to pave the way for peace talks. Several top leaders of the 709 battalion of the ULFA are also believed to be present in the meeting held under tight security provided by militant cadres and away from media glare.
Sources within the ULFA told IANS that the resolutions adopted at the meeting would first be conveyed to the elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah for his clearance before Rajkhowa makes the decisions public.
“The central executive would decide on the modalities of peace talks and then the resolutions would be conveyed to Paresh Baruah for his approval before placing the same before the ULFA general council,” a senior ULFA leader said requesting that he not be named.
The ULFA leadership had earlier announced its decision to hold unconditional peace talks with the government - but demanded that all the top eight jailed leaders be released. But the only stumbling block is Paresh Baruah - believed to be in hiding somewhere along the Myanmar-China border.
“Paresh Baruah is not opposed to the peace process,” the ULFA chairman said. But noted Assamese writer Indira Raisom Goswami, known to be very close to Baruah, said the peace initiative currently on does not have the approval of the ULFA commander-in-chief.
“Paresh Baruah has not given the consent or approval for the peace process initiated by the ULFA leadership currently out on bail,” Goswami told IANS. Baruah telephoned Goswami several times in the past few days and the last call was received by her Wednesday, she said.
“Paresh Baruah is not willing to come and join the peace talks and it seems he is very stubborn,” Goswami said.
New Delhi has already appointed P.C. Haldar as the peace interlocutor for the talks. The ULFA leadership last week held a preliminary round of meeting with him in Guwahati.
More than 10,000 people have lost their lives in Assam insurgency with the ULFA, fighting for an independent homeland since 1979, considered one of the most organised rebel armies in the region.
Peace talks to continue: Gogoi
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said the peace process with ULFA is on the right track and will continue even without the group’s elusive ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah.
“We know Baruah for his anti-talk stance. But the peace process will continue and we will strive for a permanent solution to the insurgency problem of the state,” Gogoi told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
“With all the leaders, including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, expressing willingness for talks, the talks process is on right track,” he said.
Gogoi was optimistic that the peace process initiated by the government will usher in an era of development in the state.
Meanwhile, there were reports that the banned ULFA was holding a secret meeting of its ‘executive committee’ in lower Assam’s Nalbari district to discuss the modalities of talks. However, there was no official confirmation of the meeting and its details.

 
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