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ULFA says no to PM’s peace offer
Include Barua in talks: GOC

Guwahati, December 10
The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has rejected offers for peace talks by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to end a quarter century of insurgency in the region.

The outlawed group said the Prime Minister’s offer was not unconditional and does not have any mention about discussing their core issue of ‘sovereignty’.

“Under the circumstances it is simply not possible for ULFA to proceed further,” ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua said in a statement received by IANS.

The ULFA was reacting to a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last week to noted Assamese writer Mamoni Goswami, which she sought to act as a mediator for talks between the rebel group and the Indian government.

“The letter from the PMO said the Indian government was ready to hold talks with any group that abjures the path of violence,” Goswami, who teaches modern Indian languages at Delhi University, told IANS on the telephone.

The ULFA statement said the PMO’s letter was “self-contradictory and confusing”.

“The letter says the Prime Minister has not put any precondition. But at the same time it says he (Singh) will hold talks only with those who abjure violence, that in itself is a precondition,” the ULFA leader said.

The Army today said all talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) would be useless if its self-styled chief of the army wing Paresh Barua is not involved .

Talking to mediapersons at the headquarters of the Tamulpur brigade, about 80 km from Guwahati, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 4 corps, Lt-Gen Anup Singh Jamwal, who has been serving his third tenure, said it was important to find a lasting solution to the problem.

The military wing is controlling everything and therefore it was important to involve Paresh Barua in the negotiation process, Lt-Gen Jamwal said while replying to a question on his rejection of the recent talk offer by the Union Government.

The Army officer, who has the whole of Assam and Arunachal, including the China border, under his command and also has the experience of tackling insurgency in the state as GOC of the Red Horns division four years ago, said ULFA has been passing through difficult times since the Bhutan operation last year.

The continued Army and security forces operation inside the state has forced the ULFA leadership to consider other options.

He, however, suspected the sincerity and genuineness of their talks offer and opined that it was important to assess the sincerity of the ULFA leadership on their willingness for negotiation.

The General, expressing a similar view on the talks with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland ultras, said the Army has not received any instruction from the Centre to slow down operations against the outfit which clearly indicated that the negotiations have not progressed to a satisfied level.

On the proposed talks with the ULFA, he said any talk with the political wing, including President Arabinda Rajkhowa, might not be fruitful and lasting as the political wing is not as active and powerful as the military wing. — IANS, UNI


Apunba Lup threatens stir if demands not met

Imphal, December 10
With the deadline for the withdrawal of the draconian and controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 expiring today, representatives of Manipur’s Apunba Lup have threatened to go ballistic in their mode of protest over the issue. Having met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last month and submitting a memorandum that called for the repealing of the AFSPA, the Apunba Lup today says that it does not see the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Contending that the act has no place in democracy, the amalgamation of 32 organisations believes that it has given the armed forces the license to kill without appropriate control measures.

Talking to ANI, Shivadutta Luwang, the publicity sub-committee member of Apunba Lup, claimed that the Union Government’s move to set up a committee to review AFSPA is nothing but a delaying tactic.

He warned that Apunba Lup would not hesitate to resort to intensified agitation after the December 10 deadline expires.

It may be mentioned here that in the recent past Manipur witnessed widespread agitation after the alleged custodial death of Thangjam Manorama in the custody of Assam Rifles in June this year. — ANI


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