GUWAHATI, Feb 20 � The Centre is waiting for a written proposal from the Ranjan Daimary faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) for initiating the next step for formal talks with the outfit. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is unlikely to provide additional forces to Assam as per the request of the State Government.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the issue of initiating talks with the NDFB (R ) was discussed in the meeting between the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday. The Home Minister made it clear in the meeting that the Centre would require a formal letter from the outfit expressing its desire for talks to initiate the next step like releasing Ranjan Daimary on bail. The issue of suspension of operations against the outfit will be decided only after formal talks begin.
The Chief Minister yesterday requested the Centre to provide additional forces to the State to deal with the situation, but sources said that at this moment, it would be difficult for the Centre to do so and Chidambaram himself admitted the fact in the meeting. The State now has around 85 companies of Central forces and the Chief Minister demanded that the strength should be increased to at least 125. However, sources said that only the forces sent to Uttar Pradesh would be returned to the State and the strength would be increased to around 98 companies.
Sources pointed out that at one point of time in 2009, the total strength of Central forces in Assam went up to more than 160 companies, but with the improvement of the situation in Assam and considering the requirement in other States, gradually some forces were withdrawn from the State. The Home Minister also asked the Chief Minister yesterday to deal with the situation with the existing forces.
Meanwhile, several other key issues came up for discussion during the meeting and the Home Minister stressed the need for rehabilitation of the ultras who have come overground. Chidambaram said that those who are fit for Government jobs can be absorbed. But at the same time, he said that it is not possible to provide Government jobs to every militant who came overground and steps should be taken for skill development so that the surrendered militants can be engaged in productive works.
The Home Minister asked the State Government to build up pressure against the Maoist rebels so that they cannot establish strong roots in the State. He also stressed the need for increasing operational pressure on the hardline faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) headed by Paresh Baruah.
The progress of talks with the militant groups, which signed ceasefire agreement with the Government was discussed and the Home Minister expressed the hope that formal agreements with both factions of the DHD would be reached soon. He stressed the need for expediting the process of talks with the pro-talk faction of the ULFA. But at the same time, he admitted that completion of talks with the ULFA would take some time, sources added.