The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamoni prods PM on truce

New Delhi, March 29: Writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, imploring him to respond 'directly' to the letter in which Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa spelt out the outfit's conditions for talks.

The Ulfa letter was in response to Goswami's efforts to facilitate negotiations between the two sides. The New Delhi-based writer said she forwarded the letter to the Prime Minister's Office soon after it was delivered to her.

'It was after so many years that Ulfa wrote to the Indian government. So there should be direct communication between them. Our ultimate objective is to facilitate talks and bring peace to Assam,' she said at her residence in Maurice Nagar.

This is the first time Gosw-ami has spoken about the need for direct communication between the parties involved since she took up the unenviable task of brokering talks.

She said Ulfa's letter clearly mentioned 'restoration of sovereignty' as the core issue. 'The Indian government, on the other hand, wants other issues to be included in the agenda for talks. This was conveyed to me by national security adviser M.K. Narayanan a few days ago. He said the door was still open for a dialogue.'

Delhi was initially not keen to accept any of the outfit's three conditions for talks ' that the dialogue should be held in a 'third country', on the issue of sovereignty and under UN supervision.

Goswami said she had thought of conveying what Narayanan told her recently to the Ulfa leadership, but changed her mind when it dawned on her that it would be better if Delhi directly established contact with the outfit. 'I realised that a letter directly addressed to them (Ulfa) would be a positive move. I will step in again whenever necessary,' she said.

On whether that meant she was distancing herself from the process, the writer and Delhi University professor said: 'During my recent visit to Sivasagar, I could clearly gauge the feelings of the people. They were keen to know if the government had replied to Ulfa's letter.'

Goswami said the Prime Minister was 'very keen' to concretise the peace process. 'He is very learned and I am confident that a proper decision will be taken.'

Ulfa militants have struck in Assam several times recently, raising questions about the efficiency of the security establishment.


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