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It's now for ULFA to talk peace

By K Anurag in Guwahati
June 23, 2006 18:06 IST
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With the liasing of the People's Consultative Group coming to an end, it's time for the leadership of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom to enter into direct dialogue with the government of India.

Following Thursday's talks between the government and the PCG, it is now upto ULFA to facilitate lasting peace in insurgency-hit Assam.

The Union home ministry has made it amply clear that the government is willing hold the next round of talks directly with ULFA leadership, not with the PCG, which was nominated by the banned outfit to prepare ground for direct peace talks.

For that to happen there must be a break from violence in the state, as ULFA was asked by both the government and the PCG to observe restraint and create an atmosphere conducive for the peace process to fructify. The bottom line is - stop violence if you are interested in a peaceful solution.

By agreeing to give a positive consideration to the ULFA's demand for release of five of its senior leaders now lodged in Guwahati Central Jail, the central government left the militant group with virtually nothing to complain about vis-à-vis the peace initiative.

If the government can keep its own security forces under check for some time, the previously elusive top leaders of the banned militant group will be forced to take a few positive steps to emphasise its sincerity towards finding a solution through dialogue.

The peace initiative, which was on the verge of collapse in the wake of a series of explosions rocking Assam early this month, received a new lease of life with the government deciding to give ULFA a final chance to come forward for meaningful and direct negotiation.

The writing on the wall is quite discernible – it is either direct peace talks or continued counter-insurgency operations. Everything now depends on proposed release of the five senior ULFA leaders from jail and subsequent course of action on part of the ULFA vis-à-vis peace process.

That leaves the situation in Assam in a fluid state.

More news: Assam

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K Anurag in Guwahati