Centre ready for talk with any NE militant outfit:Patil

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Shillong, Mar 24 (UNI) The Centre is ready to talk to any militant outfit of the North East Region that is willing to eschew violence.

This was stated by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil while talking to the media here today.

Mr Patil also stressed on maintaining peace in the region which is essential for all round development of the region.

He was in the Meghalaya capital to participate as Chief Guest at the function to mark the 171st Raising Anniversary of Assam Rifles here today.

Earlier, Mr Patil addressed a Special Sainik Sanmelan at the Assam Rifles Hqrs at Happy Valley on the occasion.

In his speech, Mr Patil praised the bravery and dedication of the Force, one of the oldest in the country, which has given outstanding service to the nation, especially in the N E region by combating insurgency in the most difficult terrain.

The Force had received recognition and was honoured with numerous gallantry and distinguished awards for these services, he said.

The Home Minister also mentioned that the government has submitted a bill in Parliament to make the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary outfit, into an armed force, which is likely to be passed soon. He said the government was also taking several welfare measures for the benefit of the AR jawans.

On the occasion, the Home Minister laid a wreath at the AR War Memorial, awarded medals to jawans for displaying bravery in their duties and also addressed a meeting of AR Commanders at the DG, AR Hqrs.

The function was attended by Lt. Gen. Bhopinder Singh, DG, Assam Rifles, besides a number of Director-Generals of Central Para Military Forces and a host of other dignitaries.

UNI PRS PL RD 1541

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