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Ulfa gesture wins kudos

Guwahati/ New Delhi, Aug. 19: Ulfa’s announcement that it was ceasing hostilities against the security forces has pleased both Delhi and Dispur, as well as the People’s Committee for Peace Initiatives (PCPI) and the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) constituted by the outfit.

Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, however, clarified today that the outfit had only declared “cessation of hostilities” in deference to Delhi’s suspension of army operations. He told The Telegraph over telephone this evening that there was no “unilateral ceasefire” as reported. He told the media, “We will exercise restraint in response to the government’s announcement suspending operations.”

Sources close to the outfit said a ceasefire was a formal declaration made after reaching an agreement with the government. “Ulfa can take a decision on a formal ceasefire only at its executive council meeting after the jailed leaders are released,” one of them said. He added that Ulfa’s decision announced last evening also implied it was temporary in nature and could be revoked if the army carried out any operation, small or big.

The Centre is also happy over cessation of hostilities by Ulfa. National security adviser M.K. Narayanan congratulated PCG facilitator Mamoni Raisom Goswami when she called him up, hours after she and another member, Rebati Phukan, met him and Union home secretary V.K. Duggal. “Narayanan told us, ‘It is your (the PCG’s) success’,” Goswami said.

“It is a positive development. A government reaction will come after the weekend,” said a home ministry official. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi described the development as a good sign towards lasting peace.

PCPI chief convenor Lachit Bordoloi said: “Now the Centre has to reciprocate by releasing the five jailed leaders for direct talks to get under way. A formal ceasefire has to be put in place and its modalities worked out. Cessation of hostilities does not necessarily mean a ceasefire.”

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