The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ISI leash on Ulfa: Gogoi

New Delhi, Nov. 18: The Ulfa cannot come for talks here as it is difficult for its leaders holed up in Bangladesh to come out of the clutches of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said today.

Gogoi said the Centre has always believed that it would be very difficult for Ulfa leaders Paresh Barua and Arabinda Rajkhowa to attend direct talks with the government owing to this problem. Despite the pessimism, it was he who asked the Centre to keep trying for talks, Gogoi claimed.

Dismissing Ulfa’s claim that the outfit was not involved in the Fancy Bazar blasts in Guwahati which killed 15 people, he charged the outfit’s leaders with failing to condemn the blasts.

“It was only after three days that they denied involvement. Why did they not condemn the blasts'” Gogoi told The Telegraph. He lambasted Ulfa for placing bombs in urban areas and killing innocent people. He, however, ruled out claims that there were any camps of the outfit in neighbouring Bhutan.

“As the Ulfa smuggles arms through Meghalaya and has set up camps in Garo Hills, the Assam government is co-ordinating with the Meghalaya authorities. It is also co-ordinating with the West Bengal government in order to neutralise relations between Ulfa and militant outfits in North Bengal,” Gogoi said.

Sources close to the chief minister said the reported inability of the Ulfa leaders to return home was also conveyed to facilitator Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

“But we wanted to, and still want to, keep the door for peace talks open,” said a source close to the chief minister.

Gogoi advised the outfit to open channels of communication directly with South Block or through him (as facilitator) but demanded that it should express its demand in black and white.

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