Assam CM hints at ceasefire with more ULFA battalions

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Guwahati, Jun 28 (UNI) The ULFA central leaderships' gradually eroding grip over its cadres, which was proved when its '28th battalion' declared truce without their endorsement, was reaffirmed with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi informing that the '709th battalion' was also in informal talks for a ceasefire.

''Talks are on with the 709th battalion (of the ULFA), though no final decision has been taken yet,'' Mr Gogoi said yesterday on the sidelines of a function in lower Assam's Baksa district.

He said no formal proposal has been received from the 709th battalion yet, adding, ''The government is always open for talks and we will encourage militants to shun violence.'' The 28th battalion's 'A' and 'C' companies truce offer, which the leaders had offered against the wishes of its central leaders Paresh Barua and Arabinda Rajkhowa and had torn wide the split in ULFA, was welcomed by the state government.

ULFA 'commander-in-chief' Barua had, however, been maintaining a tough stand and issuing repeated releases through the media that the 28th battalion's move was inconsequential and the ULFA would strike with greater vigour if the state government carried on with its 'conspiracy' to split the group.

Meanwhile, another militant outfit, United Liberation Front of Barak Valley, has also offered to call a ceasefire.

The group's leaders are reported to have met state Intelligence officers in this regard.

UNI SG DPM RD 1439

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