The Assam government on Tuesday offered peace talks with the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), but ruled out discussing the outfit's main demand to discuss the issue of the state's sovereignty.
"We want the ULFA issue to be resolved politically through negotiations and want their leaders to come for talks. But there is no question of discussing the sovereignty issue as it is non-negotiable," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told newspersons. The chief minister said 2007 saw a rise in militancy, with civilians becoming the target of several rebel groups in Assam.
"As far as insurgency is concerned, 2007 was a bad year with militants changing their tactics by targeting civilians. But on the economic front, Assam made rapid strides by launching several important projects," Gogoi said.
He said the government would deal with insurgency firmly and at the same time undertake development projects to remove poverty.
"We have initiated counter-insurgency measures and at the same time have launched several development schemes to ensure that unemployed youths from backward areas do not join militant groups," the chief minister said.
Gogoi said besides ULFA, other militant groups like the All-Adivasi National Liberation Front, the Black Widow, and the Karbi Longri National Liberation Front also were being active in Assam.
"Jihadi forces too are active in the state and we are taking measures to check such activities," the chief minister said.