The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Own law blocks direct Ulfa talks

Guwahati, Aug. 27: After agreeing to cease hostilities after 27 bloody years and the top leadership even agreeing to hold direct talks with the Centre, the hitch in taking the peace process forward is now the outfit’s own constitution.

Asked why the Ulfa was not accepting the Centre’s terms for the release of its jailed leaders, People’s Consultative Group (PCG) coordinator Lachit Bordoloi said if the outfit sends a letter to Delhi stating its willingness for talks, it would violate its own constitution as well as undermine the authority of its executive body.

Those in the know said Ulfa’s constitution was drafted, among others, by its ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain and vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi. According to this constitution, the Ulfa leadership will need the consent of its executive body to take a decision as important and significant as sitting for direct talks with the Centre. Of the 18-member executive body, Ulfa will need the approval of at least two-third of its members to take a decision. Sources said of the 18, six are in jail, three are missing since the Bhutan operations, while two of them are dead. The leadership — Arabinda Rajkhowa and Paresh Barua — are said to be outside the country.

Earlier, Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said the outfit has nothing to say on the Centre’s new demand except that it would like New Delhi to fulfil the assurances made in the last round of Centre-PCG talks in June.

On what the PCG was doing to resolve the standoff, Bordoloi said: “We are closely monitoring the situation and will be meeting on Tuesday for stock-taking. Let us see what the house has to say about it. We would like the Centre to release the jailed Ulfa leaders through a political decision. This will not only resolve the existing standoff but would also reflect the Centre’s sincerity to resolve the conflict politically. After all, the Ulfa leadership as well as the jailed leaders have already expressed their desire for direct talks.”

Sources in the legal fraternity said the Centre could explore legal as well as guarantee options to set the leaders free. “There are options but a strong political will is required to execute these. To resolve problems of this nature, sometime both sides will have to walk the extra mile,” a lawyer said.

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