ULFA to sit for unconditional talks with Centre
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Guwahati, Feb 5: For the first time in its 31- year-long struggle, the banned ULFA today decided to hold face -to-face talks with the Centre and said there was no split in its ranks on the issue.
The much-awaited talks will be held on February 10 in New Delhi.
Talking to reporters, ULFA leader Sasadhar Choudhury said that the group “would like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be present during the talks on Thursday as he represents Assam in Parliament”.
Terming the first round of talks as a “courtesy call”, the ULFA ‘foreign secretary’ said, “Respecting the wishes of the people of Assam and the Jatiya Abhibartan (a group of intellectuals), we have decided to go for talks.”
Asked whether ULFA’s core demand of ‘sovereignty for Assam’ would be discussed, Choudhury avoiding a direct reply saying, “We have decided to go for unconditional talks. Through talks, the process for resolution of Assam’s problems will be started.”
But when persisted on its reaction on the contentious demand, he said, “Talks will not be held if the sovereignty issue is raised again by us.”
Asked if the ULFA had dropped the demand, he said, “Due to the situation in the state in 1979 we wanted sovereignty for Assam. ULFA was born and we went out to carry on our struggle. Now we shall have to do what the people of Assam want.”
Centre’s interlocutor P C Haldar termed the development as “very positive which will facilitate the ground for very constrictive and meaningful dialogue”.
The released leaders also claimed there was no split in its ranks as ‘chairman’ Arabinda Rajkhowa and elusive ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah were in frequent contact with each other.
“There is no division in the ULFA. Paresh Baruah is still our commander-in-chief,” ‘vice-chairman’ Pradip Gogoi said.
The decision to hold talks Centre was taken at the executive committee and general council meetings this week, Choudhury said, adding ULFA is yet to select its leaders to participate in the discussions.
“Our charter of demands is being prepared. We will let the people of Assam know what they are. We will carry the opinions of all sections of people in the state.
“Our agenda will, however, definitely focus on what is the best option for the solution to the socio-political problems of the state,” he said, adding the success of the talks will depend on the “sincerity of the Centre”.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Guwahati, Feb 5: For the first time in its 31- year-long struggle, the banned ULFA today decided to hold face -to-face talks with the Centre and said there was no split in its ranks on the issue.  More