Gogoi appeals to ULFA leaders to come for talks

Gogoi appeals to ULFA leaders to come for talks

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday appealed to all top ULFA leaders to come for negotiations and said the Government has received encouraging signals from the militant outfit to hold peace talks.

He also said that his government favoured safe passage to the outfit's leaders if they come for talks.

"There must be an end to the mindless violence in the state. We are keeping our doors open for all of them. The top ULFA leaders including Paresh Barua must respond to the peoples' desire for peace," Gogoi told reporters here.

On ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa expressing his willingness to come to the negotiating table, he said, "Signals (from the ULFA) are encouraging".

Gogoi's comments came after Rajkhowa was quoted by the North East TV channel as saying that the banned outfit was ready for peace talks with the Government.

Asked whether Assam Government will offer safe passage to top ULFA leaders if they come for talks, he said, "I am for it."

On involving ULFA 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Barua, who controls the military wing of the outfit, Gogoi said talks can be held without him but if he comes the Government will be happy.

"If he comes on his own, we will be very happy," the Assam Chief Minister said, adding there may be good news in a week's time.

Asked about Rajkhowa, Gogoi refused to give details and only said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had spoken to him about the ULFA Chairman.

The Assam Chief Minister said the Government was ready to hold talks with the ULFA leadership on issues like granting of autonomy and giving some financial power.

"I will be happy if all the ULFA leaders including Paresh Barua read the writing on the wall...we can discuss about some autonomy, some little financial power," he said.

Barua, known for his opposition to peace talks, is reported to have fled Bangladesh and is now said to be in a neighbouring country.

Appealing to other militant outfits also to abjure violence, Gogoi said the Assam Government was trying its best to bring peace in the state.