Centre rejects ULFA’s demand
NEW DELHI/Guwhati, DEC 6 (IANS/PTI): India is ready to hold peace talks with the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) but has ruled out any dialogue on sovereignty as demanded by the outfit’s commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, a top official said Sunday. “We’re ready to hold talks with ULFA but India has already ruled out any talks on sovereignty,” the official said. The group’s arrested chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, and some other ULFA leaders were brought before a Guwahati court Saturday in handcuffs. Rajkhowa told reporters that there “cannot be any peace talks with the government under handcuffs as prisoners cannot negotiate”. “I have not surrendered and would never surrender before the government and sovereignty cannot be compromised,” he said. Paresh terms Rajkhowa’s assertion as ‘moral victory’
ULFA ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah today termed as a “moral victory” the assertion of his arrested chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa that he has not surrendered and will not hold talks with the government in handcuffs.
In an emailed statement to the media, Baruah said Rajkhowa had “showed his strength despite his mental and physical torture” when he told reporters at the Kamrup Chief Judicial Magistrate Court premises yesterday that he had not surrendered and would never do so. He also said that Rajkhowa had categorically stated that talks cannot be held with him being in handcuffs and that prisoners cannot negotiate. The scene at the CJM Court premises yesterday where the outfit’s supporters shouted slogans in favour of the ULFA and its leaders, was also a moral victory for the outfit, “as it showed the people’s support for us,” Baruah said. Claiming the ULFA has mass support, Baruah said, “ULFA is very much alive, our struggle will never end and the people of Assam are with us.”
Initially ULFA had three demands — Assam’s “sovereignty”, mediation of a third country and involvement of the United Nations. The outfit later gave up the last two demands but stuck to the issue of “sovereignty”. The ULFA stand on ‘no talk without sovereignty issue’ has other takers including three jailed militant leaders–Vice Chairman Pradip Gogoi, ‘Publicity Secretary’ Mithinga Daimary and ‘Cultural Secretary’ Pranati Deka. Human Rights activist Lachit Bordoloi said it was deplorable that Rajkhowa had been brought to the court with handcuffs. “This treatment had made it clear the government was not interested in talks,” he claimed.