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ULFA names group for talks

Sushanta Talukdar

Indira Goswami to facilitate talks


GUWAHATI: The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) on Thursday named a nine-member People's Consultative Group to prepare the ground for direct talks with the Centre.

In a statement issued by outfit's chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said that the talks between the Centre and the group would be facilitated by Jnanpith award winner Indira Goswami a.k.a. Mamoni Raisom Goswami and a former football player of Assam, Rebati Phukan.

The members of the group are: engineer Mukul Mahanta, Editors of two Assamese dailies Haidar Hussain and Ajit Bhuyan, advocate Arup Borbora, physician Brajen Gogoi, Adviser of Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) Lachit Bordoloi, Adviser of Asom Jatityatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), Dilip Patgiri, sports organiser Hiranya Saikia and journalist Diganta Konwar.

The ULFA on Wednesday conveyed to the Prime Minister's Office about nominating a group of eminent citizens from the State to explore the feasibility and prepare the ground for direct peace talks with the Centre even as 12-hour Assam bandh called by the outfit disrupted normal life in the State on Thursday.

The bandh was to protest the death of outfit's jailed political adviser Rabin Handique at Kanaklata Civil Hospital in Tezpur on August 30. While the bandh was total in the Brahmaputra valley it had little impact in the Barak valley.

On Wednesday, Indira Goswami told The Hindu over phone that she had got a call from ULFA chief Paresh Barua requesting her to get in touch with the PMO with their offer. Accordingly she got in touch with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and conveyed to him the ULFA offer. Later in the night the ULFA chief contacted her again and she informed him about the "positive response" from Mr. Narayanan.

"I have agreed to involve [myself in] the talks process between [the] group and the Centre. However, once the formal negotiations between ULFA and the Centre begin I will just remain a mere observer and would not like [to] involve in the process," she said.

The writer said this was the biggest opportunity to solve the problem and bring back normality to Assam.

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