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ULFA may stick to ‘sovereignty’

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had three years ago agreed to discuss all “core issues” with the ULFA.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
February 4, 2011 2:08:36 am

Even as there have been speculations over whether the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) had given up its demand for sovereignty following release of its leaders on bail,the outfit Thursday gave clear indications that there was no chance it would forgo its “basic” demand.

In fact,ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa would probably ask the government to include the “sovereignty” issue in the first round of talks scheduled to be held in New Delhi on February 9 and 10.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had three years ago agreed to discuss all “core issues” with the ULFA. For the outfit “sovereignty” is one of its core issues.

“We have not taken any decision for giving up the demand for sovereignty. Nothing of that sort had come up when our central executive council and general council met recently,” a senior ULFA leader,who refused to be named,told The Indian Express.

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The ULFA central executive council met in Nalbari last week despite the absence of commander-in-chief Paresh Barua,who has refused to join the peace process,and general secretary Anup Chetia.

The Union Home Ministry last week fixed February 9 and 10 as tentative dates for the first round of talks with the ULFA. The outfit on Thursday said that it would make a formal announcement on the proposed talks on Saturday.

Union Home Secretary G K Pillai is likely to head the government side and Home Minister P Chidambaram is likely to attend the opening round on day one. Former IB chief P C Haldar,who is the Centre’s interlocutor,will also be present. Haldar has already held several meetings with Rajkhowa and other ULFA leaders in the past few weeks.

The Centre is understood to have convinced ULFA leaders to sit for the “preliminary” discussions without any preconditions from either side. Rajkhowa,who was released on bail on January 1,had written to Assam CM Tarun Gogoi,expressing willingness to sit for talks without preconditions.

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