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Ulfa, govt talk peace

delhi Updated: Feb 11, 2011 03:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) - the largest insurgent group in the northeast after the Nagas - took the first step on the road for peace in Assam on Thursday.

The group held its first ice-breaking round of talks with the Centre and state government to reach at a solution.

Home minister P Chidambaram welcomed the Ulfa leaders to the talks table, promising to engage them in "sincere and meaningful talks" to "find a just and honourable solution".

The Ulfa leaders would call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday next.

An eight-member Ulfa delegation led by 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa held a meeting with senior officials led by home secretary G K Pillai.

"Through the talks, therefore, we proposed to evaluate various facets of the Constitution and to explore the viability of protection and enrichment of the sovereignty of the people of Assam in all its dimensions -- political, social and cultural, within the flexibility as mentioned by the prime minister," Ulfa's 'foreign secretary' Shashadhar Choudhury said after the meeting.

The next round of talks - when substantive issues are expected to be discussed - would be held around May.

Sources said it was decided to set up a panel comprising three representatives of Ulfa and two each of the government and the home ministry to work out the mechanics of setting up camps for Ulfa cadre, deposit of weapons and other logistical issues.

Choudhury was hopeful that the insurgency problem can be solved through an amendment in the Constitution, emphasising that they had entered into dialogue with the government in consonance with the desire of the people of Assam.

Playing down the opposition of 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Baruah to the dialogue process, he said it was a decision of the group's highest decision-making body - the general council - and they would take a call once they directly heard Baruah's views on the talks.