Paresh Baruah rejects Citizens Forum's peace initiative | india | Hindustan Times
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Paresh Baruah rejects Citizens Forum's peace initiative

The peace initiative taken by the newly-floated Citizens Forum received a major setback Friday with the elusive commander-in-chief of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Paresh Baruah rejecting the efforts.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2010 02:39 IST

The peace initiative taken by the newly-floated Citizens Forum received a major setback Friday with the elusive commander-in-chief of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Paresh Baruah rejecting the efforts.

"The Forum failed in handling the issue of peace talks diplomatically with the colonial rulers (central government) and it appears they (forum members) were driven more by their personal views and ideologies rather than considering the interests of the masses," Baruah said in a e-mail statement received by IANS.

A six-member delegation of the Forum was in New Delhi for the past one week and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister PC Chidambaram, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to drum up support for opening peace talks with the ULFA.

"The Forum members may be highly-qualified and educated people, but they lack the tact in handling issues like the ULFA problem as they are not familiar with the ground realities," the ULFA statement said.

Baruah also said the Forum leaders gave "confusing statements" regarding the ULFA’s core demand of sovereignty.

"How can they say sovereignty or independence cannot be accepted," the statement asked.

The tone of the statement clearly indicates the ULFA has rejected the peace initiative taken by the Forum.

"Let us be prepared to shed blood for achieving our goal for independence, but at the same time work towards a peaceful solution to the problem," Baruah said.

The Forum, an 11-member committee comprising academics, writers, retired police and army officers, rights leaders, and intellectuals, was formed in April and claims the support of at least 100 civil society and other ethnic groups.

Barring Baruah, the entire top brass of ULFA 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 political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.

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

The Forum leaders said the "ULFA leadership" had given them the nod to resume the deadlocked peace process provided the jailed leaders were released by the government.

The ULFA is waging a war for independence since 1979 and has always maintained that talks, if any, should revolve around their main demand of sovereignty.