Efforts on to bring ULFA to negotiation table

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Guwahati, June 26, (ANI): The Assam government and civil organizations are working towards holding talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

A six member Assam delegation of the newly floated Citizen's Forum met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to discuss issues related to talks between the ULFA and the government.

The 11-member Forum, which was formed in April and is exploring the possibilities of opening peace talks claims to have the support of at least 100 civil society and other ethnic groups.

The delegation had a 45-minute long meeting with the Prime Minister and received a positive feedback.

"We are quite happy because we realize that he has a positive attitude. He (Prime Minister) has assured us that he is quite interested in bringing Assam back to the mainstream," said Hiren Gohain, convener, Citizen's Forum.

The Assam government too is making all possible efforts to bring ULFA leaders to the negotiating table.

The initiative has gained momentum after top ULFA leaders, who are now in jail, expressed their desire to come for talks.

On the request of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to the Centre former chief of the Intelligence Bureau P C Haldar has been appointed as the interlocutor between the government and ULFA.

Haldar was earlier an interlocutor for the on-going peace process with tribal militant outfits in the State.

On his recent visit to New Delhi, Tarun Gogoi said that the government's efforts are bearing fruit and those ULFA leaders hiding outside the country are also expected to join the peace talks.

"We are trying to contact with the people outside (ULFA leaders) and those are inside (in jail) discussions have been there, the ULFA leaders have confirmed for talks," Gogoi said.

Barring its elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, the entire top brass of the ULFA is in jail.

The imprisoned leaders include chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and ULFA political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.

ULFA vice chairman Pradip Gogoi and publicity chief Mithinga Daimary are out on bail and drumming up public support to open peace talks.

People in Assam are optimistic, as successful talks with outlawed ULFA could bring long-lasting peace.

"People of Assam are hoping that there will be a solution through ULFA and Government's negotiations," said Nova Thapuria, Journalist, Guwahati

"It's really a good thing that something has started after a long decade of violence and we are really hopeful," said Dr. Rajiv Sharma, of Assam

Decades-old insurgency has made a deep dent to Assam's economic and social growth.

Now, there is a rising demand in the state for 'peace' and 'development', which can be achieved if the militant groups start talks with the government. (ANI)

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