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'No direct talks, if leaders not released'

The banned outfit's Chairman ruled out direct talks with New Delhi unless some senior leaders were released.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2006 21:49 IST

As Assam Chief Minister made a peace offering of a 14-day 'safe passage' to the ULFA as a New Year and Magh Bihu gift, the banned outfit's Chairman ruled out direct talks with New Delhi unless some senior leaders were released.

Local media today carried a statement of ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa saying "the government has slowed down on its initiative to start peace negotiations and instead stepped up military action against our cadres."

"It would be wrong on the part of New Delhi to presume that we would sit tight and join the peace talks if such actions continue," Rajkhowa warned.

"The government has enough time to launch attacks on us instead of trying to initiate peace by releasing our senior leaders from jail to help us decide on the future course of action," he said.

"A large number of our central executive committee leaders are currently in jail. We cannot take a final decision on holding talks with the government in the absence of majority of our leaders who are imprisoned," he said.

Six top ULFA leaders, including its vice chairman Pradip Gogoi, are in jail or missing since the Bhutan government's operation against the ULFA camps in the Himalayan Kingdom.

The ULFA had nominated an 11-member Peoples Consultative Group (PCG) that held the first round of peace talks with the Prime Minister on October 26 last to lay the ground for the direct talks between the government and the proscribed underground outfit.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday offered a safe passage from January 7-20 for the ULFA leaders and cadres to visit their families by informing the government and without carrying arms.

First Published: Jan 02, 2006 21:49 IST