Centre to chalk out strategy on ULFA talks

Centre to chalk out strategy on ULFA talks
Spl Correspondent
NEW DELHI, Jan 27 – Under pressure of the State Government, a reluctant Home Ministry is mulling framing broad guidelines for negotiations with the outlawed ULFA. According to sources, the Home Ministry is likely to convene a high-level meeting to prepare the modalities for talks. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is also likely to be consulted.
Ever since the surrender of the 28th Battalion of ULFA, the State Government has been pressing the Centre to hold some kind of dialogue with the militants. A reluctant Centre had rushed a top official of the Home Ministry to Assam to discuss the issue with the State Government, last year.
Though the official met a group of the surrendered ULFA to gauge their mood, the Centre informally conveyed that it expected the State Government to handle the preliminary dialogue process. The Centre obviously was reluctant to step in at that stage, said sources.
As reported earlier, a top Home Ministry official had then commented that the Centre was not keen on holding dialogue with each battalion and group of ULFA separately.
However, the situation changes dramatically after top leader of ULFA were handed over by Bangladesh.
The Tarun Gogoi Government has since stepped up the pressure on the Central Government to hold dialogue with the group. Dispur has also hinted at announcing some kind of amnesty for the jailed leaders. In addition, it also might announce a safe passage for those willing to come for dialogue.
Though the Centre is still not totally sold out on the idea, it might prepare the ground to hold talks with the leaders.
Sources said ULFA Commander-in-Chief Paresh Barua is key to the whole issue and his absence from the talks may not help in reducing violence in the State. Despite the setbacks, Barua still has control over half of the estimated 350 cadres of ULFA and enjoys considerable firepower.
Barua is still enjoys free run in at least couple of South and Southeast Asian countries besides China, sources said.
It was one of the reasons behind New Delhi seeking Myanmar’s cooperation in flushing out the militants holed up in the neighbouring country at the recent Home Secretary-level dialogue.

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