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Centre ready for talks 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, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said here today.

He also stressed on maintaining peace in the region, which was essential for all round development.

Mr Patil, who was the Chief Guest at the function to mark the 171st Raising Anniversary of Assam Rifles here today, was interacting with journalists.

Earlier, he addressed a Special Sainik Sammelan at the Assam Rifles Hqrs at Happy Valley on the occasion.

Praising the bravery and dedication of the Force, one of the oldest in the country, he said it has performed outstanding service to the nation, especially in the N E region by combating insurgency in the most difficult of terrains.

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

The Minister also said that the government has brought a bill in Parliament to make the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary outfit, into an armed force. The bill is likely to be passed soon, he said, adding that 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.

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

UNI PRS PL DKS GC/RK1708

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