M A I N   N E W S

Patil favours talks with N-E militants

Guwahati, October 4
Declaring that a multi-pronged strategy was being worked out to check insurgency in the North East, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said doors for talks with militants were always open for negotiations but it should be unconditional.

“We are prepared to sit for talks with insurgents but we cannot talk to a group which is demanding independence. There should be no conditions for talks”, he told a press conference here at the end of his two-day visit to violence-hit Assam and Nagaland.

Mr Patil said the doors for talks were not shut but “our primary duty is to protect the lives of the people”.

A multi-pronged strategy was being worked out to combat terrorism and there was a proposal that every state in the region should have a nodal officer who would coordinate among themselves to deal with the menace effectively, said Mr Patil, who accompanied by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi visited the violence-hit areas of the state.

Condemning the militant strikes as “cowardly and dastardly acts”, he said those involved in these attacks would be dealt with firmly. “We will take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future”.

“Cooperation of all state governments was required and they must act and function unitedly to deal with the situation effectively”, he said, adding that the Centre would extend all possible help to the state governments.

Asked about the possibility of external forces being behind the attack, the Home Minister said: “We should not jump to conclusions and since investigations are on, I would not like to comment on it”.

He said vital clues had been gathered about the Dimapur blasts but these could not be disclosed now.

Asked about Bhutan-type operations in neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar to dismantle militant camps in those countries, he said: “We are looking into it”.

On the demand for additional security forces for Assam, he said that it would be sent immediately.

The Home Minister also said “we should not to find faults with the state police because by criticising them we will be protecting the criminals”.

Mr Patil said: “We shall stand together. They (the terrorists) are bad people but we shall have to be prepared for it”. “We will come to correct conclusions and take steps but the situation should not deteriorate further and lead to further violence.”

Meanwhile, an All-Bodo Students Union sponsored 12-hour Assam bandh evoked response in the Bodo-dominated areas of the state, north of the Brahmaputra. — PTI

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