Ulfa ready for unconditional peace dialogue

The stage is set for a formal dialogue with the banned outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa). Its chief Arabinda Rajkhowa said his outfit was ready for peace talks without any pre-conditions. “A new chapter begins in our long struggle. As per the wishes of the national convention, we will sit for the peace talks with the government without pre-conditions,” the 54-yearold Ulfa leader, who was released from jail on Saturday, said. He was addressing a huge gathering in front of the historic Ranghar, where the Ulfa was formed by him and five others on April 7, 1979. He did not mention the outfit’s core demand of sovereignty. “We will definitely try for an honourable solution to the conflict. If not, then we will again come to the people of the state and proceed to our next step as per their advice as to whether take up arms again, join politics or what else. Whatever direction they give us we will follow,” Rajkhowa said. The Ulfa leader was released from Guwahati Central jail after he was granted bail by the designated TADA court. Addressing another public rally at Boarding Filed here, he appreciated the role of the national convention of the state’s intellectuals in initiating the peace dialogue. “We also want to sit for the discussions without pre-conditions.... but the final decision will be taken only after the arrival of our general secretary Anup Chetia.” The centre has left it to the chief minister to decide on the timing and the format of the talks. There are chances that the talks will begin before the assembly election. This would give the Congress a major talking point during the election campaign. Sources in the government said the state was also considering recommending the lifting of ban on Ulfa to create the right atmospherics for the dialogue. The state Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had told reporters on Saturday that the ban could be lifted if was found necessary for meaningful talks. “A majority of Ulfa leaders have come forward for peace talks,” he had noted.

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