The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi for peace talks without conditions

Nainital, Sept. 23: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has insisted that talks with the banned Ulfa should begin without delay instead of waiting for “letters” and other formalities.

Attending a meeting of chief ministers belonging to the Congress here today, Gogoi said the problem of internal security should be attended to politically rather than through bureaucratic and administrative measures, such as the setting up of a federal agency against terror or a unified command structure. These measures, Gogoi said, were good initiatives but often lacked the “holistic approach” required to end insurgency.

Gogoi said he had arrived at this conclusion after his experience with former Bodo insurgents, who are now a part of his government. “I was told that Assam would burn and several other catastrophic prophecies were made but they were all proved wrong. Today, ministers who were part of the Boro Liberation Tigers, are doing an excellent job and we have reason to be happy,” he said.

Addressing the chief ministers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Ulfa was losing support at the local level in Assam, adds PTI.

“The Ulfa faces a dilemma of declining support and morale within Assam. Hence there is a desire on the part of local leaders to hold talks with the government, as against intransigence displayed by their leaders outside, who remain intent on persisting with violent conflict,” he said.

Singh, however, observed that violence in the Northeast had gone down, when compared with past years.

“Manipur remains currently the most disturbed. During the past year, almost 40 per cent of all violent incidents reported from the region were from Manipur. The growing divide between the Nagas and Kukis in the hill district and the Meiteis in the plains is one reason for this,” he said.

Observing that the writ of the state government was limited, Singh stressed the “need to display much greater sensitivity and adopt a nuanced approach, given the unique nature of the peoples that inhabit the region”.

The Prime Minister asked the Manipur government to ensure “equitable” development of all areas.

Noting that terrorism, naxal violence and communal disturbances were three main areas of concern, Singh also called for better co-ordination between the Centre and the states in dealing with issues of internal security.

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