The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AASU advice for Delhi, Ulfa

New Delhi, Oct. 27: The All Assam Students’ Union today petitioned Delhi to revive the peace process with Ulfa by releasing five of its jailed leaders and advised the militant group to mend its ways.

Leaders of the AASU and the Asom Unnati Sabha called on Union home minister Shivraj Patil in the capital to suggest that Delhi release the five Ulfa leaders and suspend army operations immediately. Steps like these will be seen as “positive gestures” and perhaps convince Ulfa about Delhi’s sincerity, AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said.

The bearded leader said any direct dialogue between the two sides must be “unconditional and (held) in a violence-free atmosphere”.

On whether the onus of restoring peace was only on the government, Bhattacharyya said Ulfa needed to exercise restraint and reciprocate the government’s peace overtures.

The government had suspended army operations against Ulfa just before Independence Day and extended it by a few weeks later. However, a spate of violent incidents involving Ulfa provoked Delhi into ordering the resumption of army operations.

In any case, the peace process had been stuttering with Ulfa insisting on the release of its jailed leaders and the government asking the outfit to send a communiqué expressing its desire to sit for negotiations.

Writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami and fellow-mediator Rebati Phukan, also a childhood friend of Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, tried hard to break the deadlock but in vain.

The AASU and the Asom Unnati Sabha said in their memorandum to Patil that they had been “pursuing a policy based on non-violence and advocating solution of the problem only through discussion”.

R.K. Gogoi, a leader of the Asom Unnati Sabha, said both Delhi and Ulfa must realise that the people of Assam were tired of violence.

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