Peace Talks with ULFA if they Drop Sovereignty Demand: Gogoi

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has said that the government was prepared to hold peace talks with the outlawed United Liberation of Asom (ULFA) if it renounced violence and quit demand for sovereignty or independence.

“Our doors for peace talks with the ULFA are open, but then they have to abjure violence and give up the demand of sovereignty,” the Chief Minister told journalists.

In assembly, Gogoi made identical statement as its winter session commenced on Monday.

“If they give up violence, we shall welcome them with open arms and if they continue with their armed struggle then we shall continue to be very tough,” he said.

It should be noted that this is the first official statement following arrest of ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa and deputy-commander-in-chief Raju Baruah. Raja Bora, Rajkhowa’s personal bodyguard, was also arrested and all the three are in police remand. Government has not used terms ‘arrest’ or ‘detention’ so far.

On Friday, along with these three, Rajkhowa’s wife Kaveri, their two children, Baruah’s wife and one son, and the wife and child of self-styled ULFA foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury also surrendered on Friday.

“The family members of the ULFA leaders are free and there are no charges against the wives of the arrested militants. They are with the Assam Police and they are free to join their family members whenever they feel like,” Gogoi said.

In the meanwhile, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the main opposition, alleged that the government was not sincere to hold peace talks with ULFA.

“There has been so much of confusion insofar as the arrest of Rajkhowa and Raju Baruah is concerned. It seems the government has no interest and sincerity in taking the peace talks forward,” AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary said.

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