Himanta offers olive branch to Paresh Baruah faction of ULFA

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ULFA (I) urged to come to negotiating table ** Centre ready to reciprocate: Assam govt

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 28: A day after signing of the Bodo Peace Accord, the Assam government on Tuesday urged the United Liberation Front of Assam and its chief Paresh Baruah to enter into a meaningful peace dialogue with it and the Centre.

“I appeal to both Paresh Baruah and United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to have a meaningful peace dialogue with both the government of Assam and the Centre, ending decade-old militant movement,” state Finance Minister and Convenor of North-East Democratic Alliance Himanta Biswa Sarma told media persons here.

The offer for peace talks comes a few days after ULFA (I) claimed responsibility for four serial blasts in Upper Assam districts on the Republic Day.

“In this context, I would like to request Baruah and his anti-talk faction to consider engaging in a productive dialogue. The Centre and the state government want peace in the region,” Sarma said.

Sarma claimed that Union home minister Amit Shah had clearly said on Monday that if the ULFA(I) faction is ready for negotiations, then “the Centre is more than willing to hold talks with them.”

“This is the first time that this government is making a public appeal to the ULFA(I) for dialogue. If they are willing for negotiations, the Centre will reciprocate with equal strength and willingness for ushering in permanent peace in Assam and the Northeast,” Assam minister said.

Most of the Northeast militant outfits, barring some in Assam and Manipur, are holding talks but “if we want peace in the region, it should be inclusive by involving all the factions and the outfits,” he said.

“Some militant activities have been reported only in Assam and Manipur. So, we are requesting them (insurgents) to join the mainstream and hold discussions with the Centre for durable peace,” Sarma further said.

He also appealed to all the people of the state to urge ULFA(I) to come forward for dialogue.

“The pro-talk faction of ULFA, led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, is already engaging in dialogue with the Centre and this will continue but for permanent peace to prevail, it is necessary that all outfits and their factions come to the negotiating table,” Sarma said.

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