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PCG takes U-turn

Guwahati, Oct. 29: The Ulfa-constituted People’s Consultative Group (PCG) has decided to go back to its original role — that of a mediator — in the wake of reports about Delhi initiating Track II diplomacy to resuscitate the stalled peace process with the militant group.

The decision was taken at a meeting last night. After taking stock of recent developments, PCG members offered to “play a role” in the peace process if the Centre wanted it to.

The decision is being seen as a U-turn from the PCG’s stand of not dealing with the Centre, which it accused of backtracking from its promises during three rounds of talks since October last year.

Although the PCG members played down the significance of the decision, they were quoted as saying in private that the changed scenario had paved the way for their return to their original role.

“We never called off the peace process nor did we dismantle the PCG. If the Centre takes some positive steps and seeks our help, we will willingly cooperate,” a PCG member said.

The change in the PCG’s stand followed Delhi’s bid to establish direct contact with Ulfa.

The government reportedly approached the two PCG co-ordinators, Mamoni Raisom Goswami and Rebati Phukan, for the purpose.

However, Ulfa wants the process to be carried forward by the PCG. The outfit recently made it clear that it was not taking back the responsibilities bestowed on the PCG.

Sources said the change of heart was caused by the realisation that the group would soon become redundant if it continued to remain aloof from the very task for which it was formed.

Phukan, who attended yesterday’s meeting, reportedly advised the PCG to continue playing the emissary’s role.

“We will convey to Ulfa if any fresh proposals come from the Centre,” a PCG member said, admitting that it was a departure from its earlier stand of not playing the role of an emissary in the peace process.

The peace process hit a roadblock after the third round of talks between the PCG and the Centre in June. While Ulfa insisted on the release of five of its jailed leaders before talks, Delhi said they would be set free only if the outfit sent a communiqué to confirm its participation in a dialogue for peace.

While efforts to revive the peace process continue, security forces are worried over reports of Ulfa finding its way back into Bhutan.

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