TODAY -

Gogoi rules out general amnesty for ULFA members
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Newmai News Network

Guwahati, January 11 2011: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday ruled out general amnesty for members of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) despite an atmosphere of talks.

But, he said, his government was not averse to ensuring 'safe passage' for elusive Ulfa activists during the mid-January Magh Bihu and the mid-April Bohag Bihu festivals.

"The question of general amnesty does not arise," Gogoi said, indicating that members of the outfit would have to go through the legal process for acts of violence.

The chief minister, back from New Delhi after discussing with MHA the pros and cons of a unilateral ceasefire plea from the National Democratic Front of Boroland, insisted peace talks with the Ulfa would start soon.

"(Ulfa military chief) Paresh Barua is welcome but the process won't stop because of his absence," he said.

Gogoi also termed the Ulfa's appeal to Barua to remain elusive and keep the option of returning to guerrilla warfare open, as "its own problem" .

Today's comment of the Assam chief minister has come a day after the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) said that its military chief Paresh Barua should remain elusive so that the outfit has the option of returning to guerrilla warfare if talks with New Delhi fail.

The outfit's leadership out on bail has also said sorry for killing 13 schoolchildren at Dhemaji on 15 August 2004.But a formal apology "depends on whether the government apologizes for state-sponsored terrorism on those who believed in fighting for Assam's cause" .

"We had in our meetings with officials in New Delhi pointed out that a peace negotiation is possible without Paresh Barua," said Mrinal Hazarika, president of the ULFA's pro-talks group.

"One of the reasons is that we want him away to keep our options to return to the jungles open if the talks head nowhere.

But we must also ensure that Barua or his men do not throw a spanner into the wheel of the peace process" .

Barua is the only top ULFA leader on the loose, believed to be holed up in northern Myanmar bordering China.

All the other leaders including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa are either dead, in jail or on bail.

Hazarika's take on Barua coincided with Rajkhowa saying the Dhemaji incident was collateral damage in the fight between the ULFA and 'Indian' forces.

"I am ready to hang for the accident that should never have happened," he said.

But the outfit maintained that certain sections were highlighting the Dhemaji blot to derail the peace process.


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