NEW DELHI, June 1 � Amidst reports of pro-talks faction seeking to reach out to detained general secretary Anup Chetia, Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram on Wednesday downplayed the episode, stating that Centre was unaware about Chetia�s whereabouts and his application seeking asylum in the neighbouring country.
�I am not aware whether Chetia is in Bangladesh. We are not even aware where Chetia is at the moment,� Chidambaram said, denying any knowledge about Chetia filing petition seeking political asylum in the country.
The Home Minister�s reply is surprising given that India has been seeking Chetia�s hand over for a number of years now. The detained ULFA general secretary was one of the first militant leaders of the North-east to be formally arrested in Bangladesh and tried. He has since completed his jail term and currently in �protective custody� in the country.
Chidambaram, however, quickly added that a number of people have been apprehended from Bangladesh.�But I don�t think this can be discussed in a press briefing,� said the Home Minister, who was presenting his monthly report card.
Meanwhile, the plans to dispatch a representative of the pro-talk faction of ULFA to Bangladesh to talk to Anup Chetia seem to have lost steam. Chetia, who had submitted two applications seeking asylum, is yet to withdraw them, said sources.
Sources said formal political dialogue with pro-talk faction of ULFA would get under way only after submission of the charter of demands to the Centre.
The next round of talks with the pro-talks faction scheduled later this month is not expected to lead to any major breakthrough, as it is going to focus on logistical matter including finalising the location of designated camps, surrender of weapons and fixing of ceasefire modalities among others, highly placed sources said.
The pro-talk faction of ULFA is currently engaged in deliberating on the charter of demands submitted by Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan headed by Prof Hiren Gohain.
Meanwhile, Home Ministry officials also clarified on the brewing discontentment among the militant outfits over the �special treatment� meted out to ULFA. Outlawed NDFB has lodged a strong protest with the Prime Minister�s Office expressing its anguish.
Sources argued that no special treatment has been given to ULFA. An official pointed out that NDFB after signing ceasefire pact had not submitted its charter of demands. In fact it submitted its charter of demands after three years of signing of the ceasefire pact, contended the official.
During this period, Government of India�s interlocutor has been regularly talking with them. In case of ULFA, only one round of preliminary negotiations has been held so far. And it is only after submission of the charter of demands, formal talks would get underway, said sources.
Meanwhile, when asked whether the Centre planned to fix any time-frame to sign accords with the militant outfits it is engaged in talks ruled out any such possibility. �I don�t think it is wise to fix any deadline. Suspension of operation, ceasefire and talks are the price we pay for no violence and no killing. It is for the first time in 2010 in three of the NES there was no killing at all.
�Therefore, we must not only believe in the talks approach, we must bring them around to believe that the talks approach is the only approach that is right and this is the way to resolve the problem. They are now beginning to believe that talks are the way to resolve problem. So we must give them as much time as they need,� he said.
As I said earlier, we have already initiated the text of the agreement, with one group we have frozen the text. Agreements with these two groups can be signed in the next couple of months, Chidambaram disclosed.
With some other groups including ULFA, they have now said they are going to come out with a document. They are working on the document and when they are ready with the document, they will present it. With NSCN (I-M) talks are going on there on, many issues, we still have to agree on the language of the document.
These are complex issues and these issues have remained outstanding for 30-40 years. In 2009-2010, we have brought virtually every group to the negotiating table . That in itself is an achievement. Violence is at an all time low in the North-east. This year it is even lower than 2010. We must encourage people to maintain peace and encourage the militants to continue talks.
Meanwhile, the Centre has sanctioned a special package of Rs 138.95 crore to Arunachal Pradesh for strengthening the police set-up in trouble-torn Tirap and Changlang districts. The package includes creation of 1949 posts, development of infrastructure. It envisages setting up of 11 new police stations and strengthening of nine existing police stations.