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State Govt has pivotal role to play: Centre

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Sept 2 � The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is of the view that the Assam Government should play the lead role in starting the process of talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Centre would play the role of facilitator.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the Government of India has not changed its stand on the issue of talks with the militant groups including the ULFA. Sources admitted that no progress has yet been achieved to bring the ULFA to the negotiation table even after members of the steering committee of the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA) met the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to put pressure on the Centre to start the process of talks with the ULFA.

Sources said that the Government of India has not softened its stand on the issue. The Government�s stand on talks is still very clear. The Government is keen to talk with any militant group, which abjures violence and comes for talks within the framework of the Constitution of India sources added.

Though the SJA called for release of the jailed leaders of the ULFA to facilitate the outfit to hold its central committee meeting to take vital decisions on the issue of talks, the Centre is yet to take any decision on the issue. Sources said that the Centre would take any decision only after receiving a formal proposal from the State Government in this regard. The State Government would have to take the decision on the release of the jailed leaders of the ULFA on bail, but till date, the Centre is yet to receive any formal communication from the State Government in this connection.

Sources said that the MHA wanted the State Government to take the lead role in bringing the ULFA to the negotiation table and assured all help and cooperation needed for the purpose. The Assam Government and the ULFA would have to finalize the modalities for talks. The Centre has appointed former Intelligence Bureau Director PC Haldar as the interlocutor for talks with the ULFA and he met the jailed leaders of the outfit including ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa in Guwahati jail on several occasions to know their minds. Sources said that Haldar also held talks with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and senior officials of the State Government for formulating modalities for talks. However, Haldar would only play a part in trying to start the process of talks and he would not dictate any term on behalf of the Centre, sources added.

Official sources also revealed that till date, the Centre has not received any formal proposal from the ULFA leaders indicating their willingness for talks for political solution of the problems. Sources pointed out that as of date, the MHA is officially not aware whether the jailed leaders of the ULFA are keen on talks and it is only assumed that some of the top leaders of the outfit are favourable for talks. The hardliners in the ULFA including the commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah also started issuing instructions to the cadres not to maintain links with those reportedly soft on the issue of talks, which also gave rise to speculations that a section of top leaders of the outfit may be willing to start talks, sources pointed out.

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State Govt has pivotal role to play: Centre

GUWAHATI, Sept 2 � The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is of the view that the Assam Government should play the lead role in starting the process of talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Centre would play the role of facilitator.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the Government of India has not changed its stand on the issue of talks with the militant groups including the ULFA. Sources admitted that no progress has yet been achieved to bring the ULFA to the negotiation table even after members of the steering committee of the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA) met the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to put pressure on the Centre to start the process of talks with the ULFA.

Sources said that the Government of India has not softened its stand on the issue. The Government�s stand on talks is still very clear. The Government is keen to talk with any militant group, which abjures violence and comes for talks within the framework of the Constitution of India sources added.

Though the SJA called for release of the jailed leaders of the ULFA to facilitate the outfit to hold its central committee meeting to take vital decisions on the issue of talks, the Centre is yet to take any decision on the issue. Sources said that the Centre would take any decision only after receiving a formal proposal from the State Government in this regard. The State Government would have to take the decision on the release of the jailed leaders of the ULFA on bail, but till date, the Centre is yet to receive any formal communication from the State Government in this connection.

Sources said that the MHA wanted the State Government to take the lead role in bringing the ULFA to the negotiation table and assured all help and cooperation needed for the purpose. The Assam Government and the ULFA would have to finalize the modalities for talks. The Centre has appointed former Intelligence Bureau Director PC Haldar as the interlocutor for talks with the ULFA and he met the jailed leaders of the outfit including ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa in Guwahati jail on several occasions to know their minds. Sources said that Haldar also held talks with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and senior officials of the State Government for formulating modalities for talks. However, Haldar would only play a part in trying to start the process of talks and he would not dictate any term on behalf of the Centre, sources added.

Official sources also revealed that till date, the Centre has not received any formal proposal from the ULFA leaders indicating their willingness for talks for political solution of the problems. Sources pointed out that as of date, the MHA is officially not aware whether the jailed leaders of the ULFA are keen on talks and it is only assumed that some of the top leaders of the outfit are favourable for talks. The hardliners in the ULFA including the commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah also started issuing instructions to the cadres not to maintain links with those reportedly soft on the issue of talks, which also gave rise to speculations that a section of top leaders of the outfit may be willing to start talks, sources pointed out.