Centre rolls out CBMs for ULFA
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Centre rolls out CBMs for ULFA

The decision came at a meeting of the NSA with a group authorised by ULFA.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 03:40 IST
Jay Raina
Jay Raina

With an eye on the forthcoming assembly elections in Assam, the Centre on Tuesday agreed to examine and initiate a series of confidence building measures (CBMs) to pave the way for direct talks with ULFA leaders.

However, the twin issues of sovereignty and cessation of military operations against the rebel cadres continued to cast a shadow on the possibility of direct Centre-ULFA talks in the near future.

Tuesday's CBMs include taking a close look at the alleged human rights violations and release of some ULFA militants, currently in Assam jails, though in consultation with the state government.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the 11-member Peoples' Consultative Group (PCG) - authorised by the ULFA to negotiate with the Centre - and National Security Advisor MK Narayanan.

"Both sides agreed that a peaceful environment in Assam was necessary to create an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and as a prerequisite for further discussions. Both sides agreed to work for the creation of such an environment," Home Secretary VK Duggal said in a statement after the marathon meeting that lasted over two hours.

However, any immediate prospect of direct talks with the ULFA top brass appears unlikely since the Centre as well as the mediators resolved to hold another round of talks as early as possible before New Delhi's direct negotiations with the militant leadership.

A source said even as the poll-bound Tarun Gogoi government has been pressing for some concessions to the ULFA through their PCG interlocutors, the banned outfit's demand for the inclusion of the "sovereignty" issue in the direct talks continues to dampen the prospect of early Centre-ULFA talks.

The militants have also been pressing for demilitarisation of the state and a ceasefire to facilitate direct talks. However, the Centre, reportedly, considers these demands untenable.

The source said Tuesday night's discussions with the PCG had also been necessitated following the recent ULFA-sponsored violence, especially on the Republic Day.

The PCG is also understood to have raised the ULFA's demand for the release of the jailed members of its central committee.

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 16:21 IST