ULFA won't take part in Assam polls

ULFA won't take part in Assam polls

After participating in the first unconditional talks with the government, the banned group said it has entered into dialogue with the government respecting the desire of the people of Assam and to find a meaningful, permanent solution to the ongoing "Indo-Assam conflict".

Addressing a crowded press conference, ULFA 'foreign secretary' Shashadhar Choudhury said, "We have noted a recent statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Indian Constitution is flexible enough to accommodate the desire and aspirations of all people.

"Through the talks, therefore, we proposed to evaluate various facets of the Constitution and to explore the viability of protection and enrichment of the sovereignty of the people of Assam in all its dimensions -- political, social and cultural, within the flexibility as mentioned by the prime minister."

Declaring that the agenda of the future talks with the government and ULFA's demands would be decided by the "people of Assam", he said it was necessary to amend the Constitution to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people.

Asked what would be the role of ULFA in the coming Assam Assembly elections due in April-May, Choudhury said the group would not participate in the polls.

"Time and again we have been saying that we will have zero involvement in the polls," he said. However, he said, ULFA cannot mention anything what would be the role of its supporters in the elections.

On the possibility of declaring a ceasefire, Choudhury, flanked by 'vice-chairman' Pradip Gogoi and 'finance secretary' Chitraban Hazarika, said the initiative has to come from the government. "Anyway, we have not indulged in violence in last one year," he said.
Asked about the opposition of 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Baruah to the dialogue process, he said it was a decision of the group's highest decision making body general council. "Baruah is still our commander-in-chief," he said.

He said the ULFA is still a banned group and its members outlawed but they are trying to be a "good citizen" to bring a lasting solution to the "conflict".Choudhury also said the outfit was opposed to the continous illegal immigration from Bangladesh and wanted a solution to the problem.

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