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ULFA threatens to pull out of peace process

By The Assam Tribune

Guwahati, Sept 3 (IANS): The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) on Friday threatened to pull out of the peace process in Assam accusing New Delhi of double standards by engaging security forces in harassing supporters engaged in brokering peace.

"It is better to pull out of the peace process if New Delhi continues with its aggressive policies without trying to create conducive atmosphere for furthering the process of negotiations," jailed ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa told journalists.

Rajkhowa said this while being brought to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital for a routine health check up.

"At a time when a citizens' forum was trying to broker peace between the ULFA and the government, we find many people involved with the forum arrested on flimsy charges. This double standard violates the spirit of peace talks," the ULFA chairman said.

Rajkhowa also said there cannot be any talks with the government unless all the jailed ULFA leaders were released. "Till now we are in jail and how can you expect the peace talks to move ahead. No way would we agree to talk from inside the jail," the ULFA chairman said.

"It is the duty of the government to create an environment for peace talks, but on the contrary we find the government simply interested in counter insurgency operations."

Barring ULFA's elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, the entire top brass of the outfit is in jail. The imprisoned leaders include chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka, and Bhimkanta Buragohain.

Two other leaders - ULFA vice chairman Pradip Gogoi and publicity chief Mithinga Daimary, are out on bail and currently engaged in drumming up public support for peace talks.

Most of the jailed leaders have expressed their willingness to start peace talks with the government. "We want talks, but such negotiations will have to be mutually acceptable and honourable," Rajkhowa said.

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