The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Truce thrust to early talks
- Gogoi to bring NDFB to table soon

Guwahati, Oct. 19: Dispur has set the ball rolling for a dialogue with the outlawed National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) at the earliest and with minimum fuss.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi is leaving for New Delhi tomorrow to finalise the modalities for a reciprocal ceasefire with the Bodo outfit. He told the media here this morning that he would meet Union home minister Shivraj Patil on Thursday to discuss how to go about the task of initiating talks.

Though counter-insurgency operations against the NDFB have not been suspended, security forces are going slow. Gogoi said they had been asked to 'exercise restraint' in view of the 'very positive signal' from the outfit.

The truce declared by NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary, alias D.R. Nabla, took effect on Friday.

Patil's deputy, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, had said during a whirlwind trip to Guwahati last week that the onus was on Dispur to assess the credibility and sincerity of the offer made by the NDFB.

Gogoi said Dispur had not established contact with any NDFB leader, but was satisfied with the formal communication from the outfit. He said the government would do everything possible to get the peace process moving. This includes offering safe passage to representatives of the outfit to sit for talks.

The chief minister hinted that the proposed parleys could be on the lines of those with the NSCN (I-M) or the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers.

'We are very keen to bring all outfits to the negotiating table and usher in peace. That is what the people want, and that is what we had promised to do during my tenure. I am looking forward to the day when I can withdraw the Disturbed Areas Act and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act,' Gogoi said.

On writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami's announcement that the Ulfa, too, was ready to negotiate with the government, Gogoi said she was keeping him informed about her talks with the militant leaders.

The chief minister refuted allegations that two of his cabinet colleagues ' Bhumidhar Barman and Bharat Narah ' were maintaining links with militant outfits.

'These allegations have been raised merely to derive political mileage. There is no prima facie case against them. We come in contact with lots of people and to accuse someone on that basis is not correct. If we take a phone call or a photograph as proof, then most of us will end up in jail,' Gogoi said in defence of his colleagues.

He said the AGP, which is at the forefront of the smear campaign, should look in its own backyard before making unsubstantiated allegations.

'Everybody knows what they did when they were in power. They swept everything under the carpet,' he said.

The chief minister announced that Dispur would provide housing to 1.26 lakh people affected in the recent floods in Goalpara and extend old-age pensions to 2.5 lakh senior citizens this fiscal.

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