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Dispur warms to Ulfa talks provisos

Delhi/Guwahati, June 4: Dispur today reacted with “indifference” to the BSF’s revelations on the Ulfa’s business interests in Bangladesh, saying it will make no difference as long as the outfit was interested in carrying forward the peace process.

“Even some NSCN (I-M) leaders were said to have business interests in Thailand. The outfit also has offices in many countries, but that has not hampered the peace process in any way,” a home department official said.

He said Assam police had on earlier occasions, too, furnished similar lists to the Centre for taking up the matter with Dhaka.

The official said Bangladesh had been sitting on the information forwarded by Delhi. However, an agency report from Dhaka said Bangladesh today dismissed as “unfounded” reports of Ulfa rebels running hotels and having bank accounts in that country.

During a director-general level meet at Dhaka in April, the BSF had handed over to Bangladesh Rifles a list of 190 camps and names of prominent rebel leaders of the Northeast residing there. Sources said even in that list, business interests of Ulfa leaders were detailed.

In a boost to the peace process, Delhi is mulling the Ulfa’s demand to release its jailed leaders before sitting for a round of tripartite talks.

Sources in Delhi said the Centre is weighing two options ' to free the Ulfa office-bearers from jail or to give them free passage so that they can sit for talks and decide whether to free them or not.

National security advisor M.K. Narayanan reportedly spoke to Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi this evening on the issue. The sources said they discussed the need further talks to set the terms for the release or free passage for Ulfa office-bearers.

Earlier in the day, Gogoi had made strong overtures to the Centre for the release of Ulfa office-bearers.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami, who has been facilitating the peace process, said she told Narayanan today about the Ulfa’s insistence that its key members be released.

“The Ulfa has repeatedly said without the key members they cannot complete the quorum and thus cannot have their central executive meeting to decide on having talks with the Centre,” she said.

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