Guwahati, June 18: Mamoni Raisom Goswami can meet the top Ulfa leadership in Guwahati, Dhaka, Bangkok or wherever she sets up a date with them, the Assam government said today.
Responding to the writer’s offer to “go abroad”, minister and government spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma said she should seek an appointment with Ulfa leaders and inform Dispur when they would like to meet. He said the government would do everything “within its means” to help Goswami, including convincing Delhi to endorse her decision to speak directly to the militants.
He said the ball was now well and truly in Ulfa’s court.
“The government welcomes the development. If she gets an appointment, she just has to inform us and we will move Delhi to facilitate a dialogue wherever they decide to hold it.”
Goswami’s offer was a reaction to chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s accusation that she was “not doing enough” to establish direct contact with the Ulfa leadership and convince them to sit for talks.
The writer said yesterday that she was ready to go and meet the leaders anywhere, but would require the government’s help to achieve her mission. She urged the government to send an emissary with her since she was “not an expert in conflict resolution”.
Sarma said the fact that the chief minister’s comment spurred the writer into action meant that it was not a pointless allegation.
“The chief minister had made the observation with a definite objective...that Goswami should meet Paresh Barua or Arabinda Rajkhowa and convince them (to sit) for talks. We are happy with the development,” he said.
On criticism of Gogoi’s statement that law and order under Congress rule was better than during the period when Prafulla Kumar Mahanta headed an AGP-led ministry, Sarma said the government had never claimed that militancy had been wiped out.
“What our government has claimed is that we have been able to check militancy. No government can assure foolproof security. Our government has not failed if we consider the number of militant groups in ceasefire. Instead of personal security, we are trying to ensure collective security,” the minister, who also holds the health portfolio, said.
Both Sarma and the other government spokesman, Ripun Bora, targeted Mahanta again for demanding President’s rule in Assam.
“He has this habit of twisting facts, forgetting what happened during his tenure. The secret killings and the letter of credit scam are reminders of his deeds. Whenever he raises this demand, we also get the opportunity to remind future generations of his deeds,” Sarma said.
Dispur, the minister said, had taken “serious note” of the killing of surrendered Ulfa member Rinku Chowdhury on Saturday. “We will take appropriate steps,” he added.