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ULFA heading for a split, says Gogoi

By Spl correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 17 � Confirming that outlawed ULFA is heading for a split, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said Paresh Barua should see the writing on the wall, even as he ruled out the possibility of �releasing the jailed leaders and also declaring an unilateral ceasefire.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, the Chief Minister dealt with a host of issues and gave a brief account of his meetings with Central leaders inclu-ding Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Union Minister for Water Resources Paban Kumar Bansal and Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, among others.

On the ULFA issue, the Chief Minister said that the militant outfit was heading for a split and sharp cracks have surfaced. He said half of the central committee members are in jail and the rest are outside the soil of Assam. �Yes, there is a division within the outfit,� he observed. �

Paresh Barua is not keen for talks. But even then we are trying, though we are prepared to go ahead even without him,� he said, adding that Government is prepared to grant him safe passage, in case he turns up for talks.

�If he is willing to come, definitely we will consider,� Gogoi said.

The Chief Minister, though candidly admitted that it was not� numbers but the ULFA military chief�s firepower and the potential to create trouble that is bothering the government.

The Chief Minister also ruled out the possibility of declaring a unilateral cease-fire, asserting that the government has information that Paresh Barua�s group is still trying to foment problem in the State. �We know the areas where they are operating. There is no question of slowing down operations,� he asserted.

Gogoi disclosed that Barua�s is not opposed to dialogue but he wants to discuss about sovereignty, which Government does not want to discuss. �Sovereignty is non-negotiable and we have made it clear,� he said.

Paresh Barua should see the writing on the wall and gauge the mood of the people of the State, said, pointing out that the support base of insurgency has shrunk in Assam.

About the peace process, Gogoi said that government is not talking about releasing the jailed leaders now. �We have not discussed this but we have conveyed to them that we will give all facilities to the jailed leaders,� he said.

�The State Government cannot release them. They have to apply for bail before the court. The law is very clear and it depends on the courts. But all these issues will come later,� he added.

Clarifying Government�s thinking, he said Government wanted to move step by step and first interlocutor would be appointed. Former IB chief PC Haldar is tipped to take over. The interlocutor would talk to them and then we will decide on the modalities. After that the question of demands would come, he stated.

Declining to a give a specific time-frame, the Chief Minister said he first wanted the process to start. He also clarified that there was no pre-condition from ULFA�s side. �Whereas we have made it clear that we do not have the authority to disintegrate the country and they are also not insisting,� he said, referring to the demand for sovereignty.

About the role of the State Government in the peace process, Gogoi said it would be limited to facilitating the negotiations. �They would like to talk to the Government of India and we will facilitate that,� he said.

The Chief Minister again reiterated that he was not prepared to reveal in what form the government has received the signal for talks from the pro-talk group. �We have to go step by step and we expect 60-70 per cent of the cadres to join the peace process. Why wait for 100 per cent of the cadres to join the process,� he said. �

The Chief Minister also gave out figures to butress his claim that the internal security situation in the State has improved considerably during the past few years and insurgency is on the wane.

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ULFA heading for a split, says Gogoi

NEW DELHI, June 17 � Confirming that outlawed ULFA is heading for a split, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said Paresh Barua should see the writing on the wall, even as he ruled out the possibility of �releasing the jailed leaders and also declaring an unilateral ceasefire.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, the Chief Minister dealt with a host of issues and gave a brief account of his meetings with Central leaders inclu-ding Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Union Minister for Water Resources Paban Kumar Bansal and Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, among others.

On the ULFA issue, the Chief Minister said that the militant outfit was heading for a split and sharp cracks have surfaced. He said half of the central committee members are in jail and the rest are outside the soil of Assam. �Yes, there is a division within the outfit,� he observed. �

Paresh Barua is not keen for talks. But even then we are trying, though we are prepared to go ahead even without him,� he said, adding that Government is prepared to grant him safe passage, in case he turns up for talks.

�If he is willing to come, definitely we will consider,� Gogoi said.

The Chief Minister, though candidly admitted that it was not� numbers but the ULFA military chief�s firepower and the potential to create trouble that is bothering the government.

The Chief Minister also ruled out the possibility of declaring a unilateral cease-fire, asserting that the government has information that Paresh Barua�s group is still trying to foment problem in the State. �We know the areas where they are operating. There is no question of slowing down operations,� he asserted.

Gogoi disclosed that Barua�s is not opposed to dialogue but he wants to discuss about sovereignty, which Government does not want to discuss. �Sovereignty is non-negotiable and we have made it clear,� he said.

Paresh Barua should see the writing on the wall and gauge the mood of the people of the State, said, pointing out that the support base of insurgency has shrunk in Assam.

About the peace process, Gogoi said that government is not talking about releasing the jailed leaders now. �We have not discussed this but we have conveyed to them that we will give all facilities to the jailed leaders,� he said.

�The State Government cannot release them. They have to apply for bail before the court. The law is very clear and it depends on the courts. But all these issues will come later,� he added.

Clarifying Government�s thinking, he said Government wanted to move step by step and first interlocutor would be appointed. Former IB chief PC Haldar is tipped to take over. The interlocutor would talk to them and then we will decide on the modalities. After that the question of demands would come, he stated.

Declining to a give a specific time-frame, the Chief Minister said he first wanted the process to start. He also clarified that there was no pre-condition from ULFA�s side. �Whereas we have made it clear that we do not have the authority to disintegrate the country and they are also not insisting,� he said, referring to the demand for sovereignty.

About the role of the State Government in the peace process, Gogoi said it would be limited to facilitating the negotiations. �They would like to talk to the Government of India and we will facilitate that,� he said.

The Chief Minister again reiterated that he was not prepared to reveal in what form the government has received the signal for talks from the pro-talk group. �We have to go step by step and we expect 60-70 per cent of the cadres to join the peace process. Why wait for 100 per cent of the cadres to join the process,� he said. �

The Chief Minister also gave out figures to butress his claim that the internal security situation in the State has improved considerably during the past few years and insurgency is on the wane.