The Government is awaiting a response from the banned ULFA after which the dialogue process with it may evolve, Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai has said.

“I understand that the governing council of the ULFA was held inside jail a few days back. They are discussing. We are awaiting a response and as the response comes the dialogue process will evolve,” Mr. Pillai told PTI here.

After a meeting of the top jailed ULFA leaders in Guwahati Central Jail, the group had issued a press statement demanding release of six jailed leaders to take the talks process forward.

The development had come after Home Minister P Chidambaram authorized Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to initiate the dialogue.

“The process has been initiated by the Government of Assam. Let them (ULFA) say. The process cannot be rushed,” Mr. Pillai said.

Asked how the talks could be fruitful when its elusive ‘Commander-in-Chief’ and some leaders of the military wing were still at large, the Home Secretary said, “A majority of members of the ULFA’s governing council are there. A couple of them are not there ... We will welcome them for the talks.”

“The people of Assam want a dialogue to resolve the issue. If leaders outside indulging in violence listen to the voice of Assam, they will come forward for talks,” Mr. Pillai said in an apparent indication that the government was not averse to dialogue without the group’s ‘Commander-in-Chief’ Paresh Barua.

“Leaders outside will realize the futility of violence which is causing suffering to the people of Assam. If they are for the people of Assam, which they pretend to be, they will come forward for talks, if not today, then tomorrow,” Mr. Pillai said.

On the first talks in 1992, when some of the outfit’s leaders led by general secretary Anup Chetia held a round of discussion with the Centre, but fled on the pretext of convincing other members, Mr. Pillai said, “The question is not about trusting the ULFA. You can resolve an issue through dialogue and not through violence. That’s the message we want to send.”

On May 28, ULFA ‘publicity secretary’ Mithinga Daimary and ‘vice chairman’ Pradip Gogoi, who were recently released on bail, had met ‘chairman’ Arabinda Rajkhowa, ‘advisor’ Bhimakanta Buragohain, ‘Deputy Commander-in-Chief’ Raju Barua, ‘Foreign Secretary’ Sashadhar Choudhury and ‘Finance Secretary’ Chitrabon Hazarika in Guwahati Central Jail.

They had also met jailed ‘cultural secretary’ Pranati Hazarika who is in hospital.

Three of the 15-member general council are missing since the Bhutan operations in 2003 while another member Robin Handique died in Tezpur jail after he was taken there.

ULFA ‘general secretary’ Anup Chetia is in a Bangladesh jail and only two members, Paresh Baruah and Jibon Moran, are still at large.