The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi miffed by Ulfa stand

New Delhi/Guwahati, July 8: Peeved over the Ulfa’s stand that direct talks could be held with Delhi only after five of its top leaders are freed from jail, the Union home ministry has ruled out any compromise on the issue.

Conveying this to Ulfa via the People’s Consultative Group, the ministry clarified that matters would be thrashed out according to the terms set out in its meeting with the PCG on June 22.

Delhi has clarified to the PCG that Ulfa’s insistence on involving its five jailed leaders in the parleys has only put a question mark on the outfit’s sincerity towards the peace process.

The ministry is concerned over escalating extortion in Assam, allegedly by Ulfa, official sources said. The latest instance is the demand for Rs 15 lakh from Guwahati-based Reserve Bank of India regional director Amarendra Sahu.

Guwahati police have made a breakthrough in this connection. Two Ulfa militants and a linkman believed to be involved in serving the extortion note on Sahu were arrested today.

“It has come to our notice that some lower-rung Ulfa leaders are serving extortion notes without the knowledge of the outfit’s top brass. Even some overground sympathisers of the outfit are involved. We are keeping a close watch on them,” a senior Guwahati police official disclosed.

The Union home secretary, V.K. Duggal, has summoned Assam chief secretary S. Kabilan to New Delhi on Monday. A decision will be taken after reviewing the situation with the latter, said a source.

The Centre has also made it clear to the PCG that the outfit, which has been lethargic in its response to its offer of direct talks at the earliest, will have to send one of its top underground leaders for these parleys. If not Paresh Barua, then it would have to be at least Arabinda Rajkhowa. It has been conveyed to Ulfa they should respond to the direct talks offer by August 15 and till then, ensure peace in Assam.

The Ulfa militants, nabbed late last night, were identified as Mantu Bezbarua and Gautam Sarania alias Rahul Deka. They were arrested along with linkman Mintu Das from Birubari. “They were involved in delivering extortion notes, including the one served on Sahu, and other unlawful activities,” additional superintendent of police (city) Rajen Singh said. Police recovered a grenade they had hidden.

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