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Decks being cleared for Assam separatists' release

Sunday November 28, 2010 07:31:03 PM, Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS

Guwahati: The decks are being cleared for the release of all top jailed leaders of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) as the government wants to pave the way for peace talks to end over three decades of insurgency in Assam.

As part of a government strategy, four top ULFA leaders were released, with the government prosecutor under instructions from the state not to object to the bail petitions filed by the jailed rebels.

The latest to be released on bail is ULFA deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah who walked out of the Guwahati Central Jail late Saturday.

"We want the release of all the jailed ULFA leaders and hence we did not object to the bail petitions of the ULFA leaders, including Baruah," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

"Naturally, the decision to allow or reject the bail petitions rests with the judiciary, but we believe peace talks can start once the jailed ULFA leaders are released."

Baruah apart, three other top ULFA leaders are already out on bail - vice chairman Pradeep Gogoi, publicity chief Mithinga Daimary and senior central executive member of the outfit Ramu Mech.

Octogenarian ULFA ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain's bail plea has already been granted and due for release any time with just few technical formalities left for his freedom.

There are just four more top ULFA leaders in jail now - chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika and cultural secretary Pranati Saikia.

Saikia's final bail application is being heard next week and it is very likely that she will also get a positive nod from the court with the government prosecutor unlikely to oppose the bail petition.

"Let all the ULFA jailed leaders be released and then we can discuss modalities for peace talks," Baruah told IANS.

"The ULFA central executive would decide on the peace talks," he added.

Going by the government strategy, bail applications of the remaining three ULFA leaders will be moved in the court in a phased manner.

"By December or January we may probably see peace talks with the ULFA beginning," the chief minister said.

Barring ULFA's elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, the entire top brass of the outfit is either in jail or out on bail.

"We want that Paresh Baruah should also come and join the peace process. But we cannot wait indefinitely for him and so we will start the peace talks," Gogoi said.





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