NEW DELHI, Feb 9 � Amidst tight security ULFA leaders had a quiet arrival in the national capital here this afternoon to participate in the formal dialogue with Government of India.
The eight-member delegation led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa arrived at Terminal Three of the Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 4.55 pm before being whisked away by Intelligence Bureau sleuths to a secure location. The ULFA delegation was accompanied by chairman�s wife Kaberi Kachari.
The ULFA leaders are scheduled to meet Union Home Ministry officials on Thursday. They are also likely to call on the Prime Minister on February 13.
Meanwhile, a grand welcome planned for the visiting ULFA delegation by local organisations had to be abandoned because of the tight security arrangements. Though ULFA leaders appeared to be keen to talk to the waiting media, security personnel directed them not to come out of the terminal. Soon word was sent out that they have left to the dismay of the reception party.
The schedule for talks tomorrow was also changed. The talks were earlier scheduled to be held at 9.30 am, while the delegation was slated to meet Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram at 9.15 am. Later, the meeting has been shifted to 1.30 pm.
Sources said the meeting with the Home Secretary would be more of an introductory in nature. The Centre�s interlocutor, P C Haldar is also scheduled to attend the meet, which would also be joined by top State Government officials.
The ULFA leaders have already expressed their willingness to hold unconditional talks and modalities are expected to be worked out shortly in discussion with the Centre and State Government.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Centre�s meeting with the outlawed ULFA, Home Minister, P. Chidambaram said that the Constitution of India is flexible and resilient enough to accommodate the aspirations of the people of the North Eastern Region.
While addressing a meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry, the Minister said aspiration of the ethnic groups can be fulfilled under the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The meeting was on �Matters relating to insurgency in NE: peace process�.
The Government is in talks with nine insurgent groups from the North-east and expects to reach agreements with some of them during the year. The Government is open to talks with groups which abjure violence, Chidambaram said.
The Home Minister said that the situation in the North-east has shown remarkable improvement in 2010 as compared to the previous year. The number of incidents of violence and the casualties of civilians and security force personnel have come down.
Participating in the discussions, members hailed the initiatives taken by the Government to restore peace in the North-east. They appreciated the initiative to hold talks with ULFA. However, the MPs stressed the need to speed up development in the North-east with particular emphasis on employment opportunities.
The Home Minister pointed out that the region has over 200 ethnic groups with distinct languages, dialects and socio-cultural identity. These groups want recognition of their identity and participation in governance.
Elaborating the position further, Chidambaram said that formation of autonomous district councils with the necessary powers and funds is the way forward in the North-east. Such Councils have to give adequate representation to minority ethnic groups. These must be pluralistic in structure and must work on the principle of inclusive governance. There are outstanding examples of autonomous district councils in the North-east and the Government wants to strengthen these institutions.
Those who attended the meeting included Thomas Sangma, Rishang Keishing, Khagen Das, and Dr Thokchom Meinya from the North-east, among others.