'PM should intervene in Assam peace talks' | india | Hindustan Times
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'PM should intervene in Assam peace talks'

The ULFA reciprocated the government's 'goodwill gesture' by announcing cessation of hostilities for an indefinite period.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2006 12:30 IST

Representatives of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) on Wednesday said a fragile peace in Assam could be saved only if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervenes.

"Now all hopes are on the prime minister's personal intervention to break the deadlock over holding peace talks with the ULFA," said Indira Goswami, a noted Assamese writer and sought by the ULFA to mediate for talks.

The prime minister is currently on a tour to Brazil and Cuba and will return early next week. "I sincerely believe the prime minister would do something positive and not allow the peace process to get derailed," Goswami said in New Delhi.

Holding of direct peace talks between the ULFA leadership and government peace negotiators have been deadlocked with New Delhi seeking a formal letter from the outfit stating that it was ready for direct talks, name its negotiating team members and specify a timeframe for the dialogue.

The main issue now blocking the start of formal face-to-face talks between the ULFA and Indian government negotiators is the rebels' demand for release of five of their jailed leaders.

The ULFA maintains that the outfit is not in a position to take a decision without their five central committee leaders who are currently in jail and is hence insisting on their release.

"The ULFA says it cannot give anything in writing without having a full executive meeting and hence they want their imprisoned leaders to be released to sit and deliberate on the matter," Goswami said.

Goswami is the leader of an 11-member team of civil society leaders - collectively called the People's Consultative Group - nominated by the ULFA in September last year to begin exploratory talks with the government.

New Delhi on August 13, announced a 10-day suspension of army operations against the ULFA, which was later extended by another 25 days. The term of halting military operations expires Friday. The ULFA, too, reciprocated the government's 'goodwill gesture' by announcing cessation of hostilities for an indefinite period.

"I think the government should release the jailed rebels and after that even if the talks fail the government would get the support of the people of Assam for trying their best to work out an atmosphere of peace," Goswami said.