No talks with ULFA-I over ‘sovereignty’ issue: Govt

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Post-Bodo Accord: Govt hopeful of ULFA-I, other groups coming for talks

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 30: The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Thursday clarified that they would not talk on the issues like “sovereignty” with any insurgent outfit, including banned United Liberation Front of Asom – Independent (ULFA-I).

The MHA clarification came at a time when Assam government has offered olive branch to ULFA-I supremo Paresh Baruah to come to the negotiating table.

“If Paresh Baruah is ready, then the Centre is more than willing to hold talks with them,” Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a press conference on January 28 a day after the signing of Bodo Peace Accord in New Delhi.

In his response to the officer of talks, ULFA supremo Paresh Baruah said he will come to the mainstream if the government discusses on sovereignty issue.

“We don’t discuss many of the things like what is in the pipeline till final things happen. Only when they fructify, we talk. We don’t discuss things publicly,” Union home joint secretary (Northeast) Satyendra Garg told reporters in the sideline of a surrender ceremony at GMCH auditorium here on Thursday.

“We don’t discuss over ‘sovereignty’. These are the conditions and the government of India will acclaim to any group whether ULFA or Meitei group in Manipur or anybody. The NDFB (S) was not agreed at first time, but later they agreed to abide by the Constitution. Talks can happen with any group, but two conditions are basic. We are in absolutely open process and we want the Northeast to be extremely peaceful,” Garg said.

The government is hopeful of ULFA-I and many of the other insurgent groups in Manipur and Nagaland coming for talks to settle their issues, following the Bodo peace accord, Garg said.

Garg said the government does not discuss till things materialise and signed, but it is always hopeful and positive about the various militant groups coming for discussions.

“We are hopeful about ULFA and many of the groups in Manipur and Nagaland coming for talks. When talks will happen we can’t give a time frame. But we try to do things fast. Slowly things emerge. We are working on it and the entire peace process will be over in a few months’ time. Who thought the Bodo Accord will come so soon,” Garg said.

Asked whether the peace accord with the pro-talk ULFA will be signed before Rongali Bihu, Garg said, “We are working on them. We want to do it fast. But when it will actually happen you will come to know.”

“There is possibility of things coming before April. Let’s be hopeful and positive. Lot of things have happened in the Northeast in the last six months. And lot of things will be happening. As the processes materialise and are signed we keep informing you… we will tell you about the outcomes,” he said.

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