The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ulfa bowls talks googly at Delhi

Guwahati, Sept. 16: Ulfa today stretched its blame game with Delhi to another level by claiming that either chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa or commander-in-chief Paresh Barua would have happily sat for peace talks by now, but for an unresponsive government.

The statement came in the wake of reports about how its handpicked team of mediators — the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) — was planning to mount pressure on the militant leaders for “direct talks” with Delhi instead of putting the onus on the government once again.

The PCG was to have sent a formal letter to the outfit when its co-ordinator, writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami, suffered a mild cerebral stroke and had to be hospitalised.

Ulfa complained in the latest edition of its bulletin, Freedom, that Delhi was harping on old issues instead of addressing the causes of the stalemate.

In this context, the outfit claimed that in response to a recent letter from Goswami to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for resumption of the peace process, Delhi asked for a formal communication from Ulfa about the venue, dates and names of the persons who would represent it in the talks.

Ulfa said it made its three conditions known to the government. The three demands are a formal announcement by the government to hold talks on “restoration of Assam’s sovereignty”, information on the whereabouts of its members who went missing after Bhutan’s military operation and the release of its jailed central committee members.

Taking the moral high ground, the outfit claimed that it dropped its previous two demands — United Nations mediation and talks outside India — in deference to the people’s craving for peace. “But the issues of our national rights and dignity are being repeatedly trifled,” the outfit said.

Ulfa held the government responsible for the spate of bomb blasts at public places. It said the government had formed a team of military, police and intelligence operatives and planted them in villages to masquerade as Ulfa members.

These “secret agents”, the statement said, were required to gather information about Ulfa members and extort money and trigger bomb blasts in public places to malign the outfit.

Goswami admitted to The Telegraph during her first interaction with the media since being hospitalised with a mild cerebral stroke last week that she was overly worried about not being able to break the Ulfa-Delhi deadlock.

“I am very serious about whatever I do. So I was disturbed. I was restless since Sunday morning and felt weak. Anticipating that something was wrong, my family members admitted me to hospital,” she said from her bed at GNRC Hospitals on Friday.

Goswami said she was still hopeful of her initiative bearing fruit. “I am okay now and will be back among my people soon. I am grateful to the people for their support and care. I will continue my peace mission.”

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