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ULFA leaders� release may be complicated

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, June 23 � Though there appeared to be meeting of minds on the issue of resolving the vexed ULFA problem, release of the jailed ULFA leaders is likely to be a complicated and long-drawn process. This much was conveyed by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to the delegation of Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA) when they called on him at his North Block Office here this afternoon.

The crucial meeting saw the delegation press for release of the detained ULFA leaders. The six-member delegation, led by Dr Hiren Gohain, conveyed that unless the jailed leaders are released, there is every possibility of the process getting derailed. The delegation further explained that though there is lull at the moment that does not mean that it may last for ever.

Chidambaram, on his part, told the delegation that release of the leaders is going to be a difficult proposition as there were legal complications involved. However, he added that the State Government will take a final call on when and how they could be released. Chidambaram also expressed his apprehension that Paresh Barua and his group might create problem.

According to sources in the Home Ministry, Chidambaram did not buy SJA�s argument and explained the legal hurdles involved and even hinted that he had doubts over ULFA�s real intention. He observed that whenever the militant outfit faces trouble, it tries to buy peace by dangling the offer for talks.

The Home Minister conveyed that though Centre is in favour of talks, it certainly would be on its terms and not on the terms set by ULFA, leaving the delegation shaken.

Sources said that though the Home Minister initially gave them a patient hearing, the meeting that lasted for over 45 minutes saw some fire works.

Later, Gohain told newsmen that they were given to understand that if talks are held at all, then the jailed leaders would be allowed to come for talks with dignity and as participants in talks and not as criminals with charges against them.

Chidambaram said that the release of the ULFA leaders would be the decision of the State Government. He is not going to release them as it is not his business to release. If the State Government is agreeable to it, then they may be released, Chidambaram said and also mentioned that there are serious charges against them.

There is some conflict of perception. But, on the whole he also wants talks and he said that preparing the conditions for talks is going to be a very difficult business and it would have to be first cleared by the State Government, because it is the authority to decide on many of these things, said Dr Gohain, who was accompanied by other members of the steering committee of the SJA.

Dr Gohain was at pains to explain that they had not come to Delhi as agents of ULFA. �What takes place within ULFA, is their business. Whether Paresh Barua comes or not is not our concern,� he said, replying to questions about the presence of the military chief.

However, he admitted that question of Paresh Barua�s presence did figure in the discussion with Chidambaram. �We explained that we are not here on behalf of Paresh Barua or his opponents,� he said.

Dr Gohain said he explained that the Central Government should also be involved because it involves the citizenship, which is under the purview of the Central Government. Whether talks should be held or not has been settled provided they abjure violence, Dr Gohain said.

The SJA delegation assured that as far as they understood the jailed leaders are not going back to the jungle. �Only thing is that they should be released. Unless the meeting of the central committee, where decision of talks can be taken, cannot take place,� he said.

Earlier, after their meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dr Gohain said that being the adviser of the National Advisory Council (NAC), she does not have direct executive role. �But she told us that she would convey this to the appropriate people in authority,� he added.

He also underlined the need for the Central leadership to understand that if ULFA problem is sought to be resolved by use of military power, then some other militant outfit might take birth. The delegation also explained that though people do not support ULFA, they sympathise with causes for which militancy has taken root in the State.

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ULFA leaders� release may be complicated

NEW DELHI, June 23 � Though there appeared to be meeting of minds on the issue of resolving the vexed ULFA problem, release of the jailed ULFA leaders is likely to be a complicated and long-drawn process. This much was conveyed by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to the delegation of Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA) when they called on him at his North Block Office here this afternoon.

The crucial meeting saw the delegation press for release of the detained ULFA leaders. The six-member delegation, led by Dr Hiren Gohain, conveyed that unless the jailed leaders are released, there is every possibility of the process getting derailed. The delegation further explained that though there is lull at the moment that does not mean that it may last for ever.

Chidambaram, on his part, told the delegation that release of the leaders is going to be a difficult proposition as there were legal complications involved. However, he added that the State Government will take a final call on when and how they could be released. Chidambaram also expressed his apprehension that Paresh Barua and his group might create problem.

According to sources in the Home Ministry, Chidambaram did not buy SJA�s argument and explained the legal hurdles involved and even hinted that he had doubts over ULFA�s real intention. He observed that whenever the militant outfit faces trouble, it tries to buy peace by dangling the offer for talks.

The Home Minister conveyed that though Centre is in favour of talks, it certainly would be on its terms and not on the terms set by ULFA, leaving the delegation shaken.

Sources said that though the Home Minister initially gave them a patient hearing, the meeting that lasted for over 45 minutes saw some fire works.

Later, Gohain told newsmen that they were given to understand that if talks are held at all, then the jailed leaders would be allowed to come for talks with dignity and as participants in talks and not as criminals with charges against them.

Chidambaram said that the release of the ULFA leaders would be the decision of the State Government. He is not going to release them as it is not his business to release. If the State Government is agreeable to it, then they may be released, Chidambaram said and also mentioned that there are serious charges against them.

There is some conflict of perception. But, on the whole he also wants talks and he said that preparing the conditions for talks is going to be a very difficult business and it would have to be first cleared by the State Government, because it is the authority to decide on many of these things, said Dr Gohain, who was accompanied by other members of the steering committee of the SJA.

Dr Gohain was at pains to explain that they had not come to Delhi as agents of ULFA. �What takes place within ULFA, is their business. Whether Paresh Barua comes or not is not our concern,� he said, replying to questions about the presence of the military chief.

However, he admitted that question of Paresh Barua�s presence did figure in the discussion with Chidambaram. �We explained that we are not here on behalf of Paresh Barua or his opponents,� he said.

Dr Gohain said he explained that the Central Government should also be involved because it involves the citizenship, which is under the purview of the Central Government. Whether talks should be held or not has been settled provided they abjure violence, Dr Gohain said.

The SJA delegation assured that as far as they understood the jailed leaders are not going back to the jungle. �Only thing is that they should be released. Unless the meeting of the central committee, where decision of talks can be taken, cannot take place,� he said.

Earlier, after their meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dr Gohain said that being the adviser of the National Advisory Council (NAC), she does not have direct executive role. �But she told us that she would convey this to the appropriate people in authority,� he added.

He also underlined the need for the Central leadership to understand that if ULFA problem is sought to be resolved by use of military power, then some other militant outfit might take birth. The delegation also explained that though people do not support ULFA, they sympathise with causes for which militancy has taken root in the State.