ULFA leaders to be freed if rebels come for talks

Himalayan News Service

Guwahati, June 4:

The Assam government says it will release senior leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) if it agrees to open peace talks with New Delhi. The outlawed ULFA on Monday demanded the release of the four leaders as a precondition to holding talks with the Indian government. “From our side we are ready to release some jailed ULFA leaders if we get a formal letter from the outfit,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters here. “We are prepared to walk the extra mile to facilitate talks with ULFA,” he added. The Indian government last week invited ULFA for talks aimed at ending more than 25 years of violent insurgency in the region. “We require at least 10 members of our Central Committee to discuss New Delhi’s offer for talks. Right now, only six members are free and the rest are in jail,” ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah said in a statement. “We want four of our Central Committee leaders to be released unconditionally to enable us to sit together and discuss the government’s offer for talks.” There are at least 10 top ULFA leaders in jail. They include its vice president Pradip Gogoi, publicity chief Mithingia Daimary and cultural secretary Pranati Deka. “We are offering safe passage to all ULFA leaders to enable them to come for talks. We do not want to put any hurdle and want them to come to the negotiating table,” the chief minister said. ULFA is a militant group fighting for an independent homeland in Assam.