The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Positive vibes from Ulfa

New Delhi, Oct. 22: Reviving hopes for resumption of peace process with the Ulfa, talks mediator Rebati Phukan today said parleys between the Centre and the outfit are likely soon after the Diwali holidays.

Ulfa leader Arabinda Rajkhowa reportedly sent some positive “messages” to Phukan last week.

“Diwali has brought good tidings and we will talk soon after the holiday is over,” Phukan told The Telegraph over phone from Mumbai.

The development coincided with the National Security Council’s meeting this week that discussed direct talks with the outfit.

Phukan and author Mamoni Raisom Goswami, as facilitators for the peace talks, have already held several rounds of meetings with national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and home secretary V.K. Duggal.

The Centre had called a unilateral suspension of army operations against the outfit but called it off a few weeks later.

The first attempt at parleys ended in a deadlock with the outfit demanding release of five of its jailed leaders and the Centre’s insisting on a letter of commitment before their release. For now, there is no commitment from either side on either a letter or release of prisoners.

Phukan said from the outset it was understood that the process would have both “fire and water”. “There was never anything negative about the process and we are hoping for the best,” he added.

A source said the peace process would resume by November 10. There has also been pressure on the Ulfa-nominated People’s Consultative Group (PCG) to come together again and facilitate the peace process. The PCG members had resigned last month and protested against the Centre’s insistence on a letter before it ordered the release of the jailed Ulfa leaders.

This time round, the Phukan-Goswami duo is expected to change tack and take a more conciliatory approach rather than insisting on the release of the Ulfa leaders.

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