Guwahati, July 11: The Centre has decided to hold talks with incarcerated leaders of militant outfits in special jails, thus ruling out the possibility of releasing them for starting a dialogue.
Union home secretary G.K. Pillai today told The Telegraph there was no impediment to holding talks even if the leaders were in jail since the exercise could be conducted at venues which may be designated as special jails where they may be shifted for the purpose.
However, the process of shifting the leaders to a special jail would involve the judiciary, which has to give permission to move out anyone in judicial custody.
The step would meet halfway the demand from various quarters and the jailed leaders themselves for their release for talks.
Holding the leaders in these special jails would mean they are not in prisons and yet they would remain in custody.
Any venue can be designated as a special jail and the talks can be held there, Pillai said, when asked if talks with the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) could be held now that the outfits top two leaders — chairman Jewel Gorlosa and commander-in-chief Niranjan Hojai — had been arrested.
While Gorlosa was arrested from Bangalore in June last year and is currently in jail, Hojai is in the custody of the National Investigation Agency following his arrest on July 1 from Motihari in Bihar.
Hojais seven-day custody expires tomorrow.
Pillai said the same formula would apply to Ulfa leaders as well.
Asked if there had been any communication with the DHD (J) or the Ulfa leaders about the move, he said: We will wait for these things.
Nekibur Zaman, a senior advocate, said any place could be designated a special jail under special circumstances and jailed persons may be shifted there.
But for that the court has to give permission since they (the jailed persons) are in its custody... the police or the government is only the custodian, he said.
According to reports, in 1997, a special court in Bihar had expressed displeasure over shifting of former Bihar chief ministers and fodder scam accused Lalu Prasad, and Jagannath Mishra to a special jail at a guest house in Patna without its permission.
Sources in the state home department said any building — generally belonging to some government agency — could be converted into a special jail.
It would be like house arrest, a source said, adding there was hardly any question of releasing the jailed leaders.
The DHD (J) has set 5pm of July 13 the deadline for the government to release its leaders, warning it would otherwise take serious steps.
On the other hand, the steering committee of the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan, which has also been asking for the release of the jailed Ulfa leaders to start talks, has asked Union home minister P. Chidambaram to clarify whether he had ever said talks could be held in jail.
It was recently reported that the minister had said talks could be held with the Ulfa leaders even inside the jail.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said the peace process was on and there was no stalemate, as apprehended by the steering committee, and asked elusive Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua to come forward for parleys.