Assam's intellectuals urge talks with ULFA

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Guwahati, Dec 12 (ANI): Intellectuals in Assam on Friday urged New Delhi to hold talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), after the arrest of its top leader.

Noni Gopal Mahanta, professor, Guwahati University, who has done extensive research on ULFA, said the central government should hold cordial talks without any pre-determined agenda.

"Before they could have given a pre-condition but today they are not in a condition but the fact is let there be cordial discussion, let there be open discussion, you raise what you want to raise and the Indian government will tell whether they can give any kind of constitution or not. So, therefore raising an issue I do not believe will jeopardise this sanctity of the Indian Constitution," Mahanta said.

Arabinda Rajkhowa, self-styled chairman of the ULFA was arrested after he turned up near India's border with Bangladesh and produced before a court in Guwahati on December 5.

In less than a month, the ULFA has been dealt a body blow with the arrest of the group's top leaders including Rajkhowa Raju Baruah, Chitraban Hazarika, Sacha Chaudhary. Only the group's military commander, Paresh Barua, who police believe to be in hiding somewhere along Myanmar-China border, still remains elusive.

The ULFA, which demands independence for the tea and oil-rich Assam, is biggest insurgent group, running a three-decade-old campaign that has killed some 30,000 people.

Though the ULFA"s military strength has waned, it still has capacity to organise attacks. At least six people were killed and 40 wounded in two bomb blasts in Assam last month. (ANI)

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