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Govt to decide on truce extension with Ulfa today

The term of the suspension of military operations against the ULFA expires on Wednesday.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2006 13:22 IST

New Delhi is to take a decision on Wednesday on extending the more than month-long suspension of military operations against the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

An Indian home ministry official said National Security Adviser MK Narayanan would meet senior officials in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the fragile peace in Assam and pleas by ULFA representatives to extend the truce by another month.

The term of the suspension of military operations against the ULFA expires on Wednesday.

"The meeting will be crucial as it would decide whether or not to further extend the suspension of anti-insurgency offensives against the ULFA," the home ministry official said over phone from New Delhi.

The central government had on August 13 announced a 10-day suspension of Army operations against the ULFA. This was later extended in two phases until Wednesday. The ULFA, too, reciprocated the government's 'goodwill gesture' by announcing cessation of hostilities for an indefinite period.

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 the outfit's negotiating team members, and specify 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 was not in a position to take a decision and write a letter to the government without their five central committee leaders, who are currently in jail, and are hence insisting on their release.

"We have formally requested the government to extend the truce by one more month," Indira Goswami, noted Assamese writer sought by the ULFA to mediate for talks, told.

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

She said the deadlock could be resolved 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."

First Published: Sep 20, 2006 12:55 IST