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State Govt facilitating release of leaders

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Oct 12 � The Assam Government is yet to receive any formal communication from the Centre on the issue of release of the jailed leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to pave the way for talks with the militant outfit. However, the State Government, on its own, has decided to facilitate the release of the jailed central committee members of the ULFA in phased manner by not opposing their bail petitions.

Highly-placed official sources said that the Assam Government has already paved the way for release of three central committee members of the ULFA�adviser Bhimkanta Buragohain, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah and cultural secretary Pranati Deka by not opposing their bail petitions.

Sources said that the State Government is not keen on taking any decision on the ULFA leaders without taking the Centre into confidence. In fact, the Government of India was not happy when the State Government facilitated the release of the ULFA vice chairman Pradeep Gogoi and publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary by not opposing their bail petitions without informing the Centre. Moreover, as the Government of Bangladesh was also involved in the arrest of the senior ULFA leaders, the State Government has decided to keep the Centre informed in every step. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who has gone to New Delhi this afternoon, is likely to hold talks with Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram on the issue of talks with the ULFA.

Sources said that the Central Government�s interlocutor PC Haldar has been holding informal talks with the jailed leaders of the ULFA including the chairman of the outfit Arabinda Rajkhowa to clear the decks for talks and he has been informing the Central and State Government about the views expressed by the ULFA leaders. Sources pointed out that the ULFA is yet to declare a cease-fire and the leaders of the outfit are insisting that the outfit would be able to hold its central committee meeting to take the formal decision on talks only after the jailed central committee members come out of jail. However, sources pointed out that the members of the ULFA have not been indulging in any major act of violence in the last six months, which is a positive sign.

However, official sources said that the operations against the ULFA have not been suspended and action would be taken against anyone found to be indulging in unlawful activities. Sources said that the ULFA cadres have been lying low in most parts of the state and that is why not many of them have been arrested in recent months.

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