Centre will support the State in carrying forward political process: Chidambaram

The Centre on Tuesday gave Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi a free hand to decide on talks with the insurgent United Liberation Front of Asom and National Democratic Front of Boroland, and assured him of full support in carrying forward the political process.

“The Chief Minister will decide how to carry the political process forward. When to hold talks, what are the conditions for talks and who they will talk to. These are matters which the Chief Minister will decide in consultation with his Cabinet colleagues. As far as the government of India is concerned, we will support the State government in carrying forward the political process,” said Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

He was talking to journalists after a review of the security situation, at a meeting of the Unified Command held at the Raj Bhavan here.

The insurgents must lay down arms and join the political process, otherwise the security forces would continue to act against them, he warned. “Security forces have been instructed to continue to implement the policy that has been in force for some time now.”

The Minister said there was a dramatic improvement in the security situation in Assam and the security forces apprehended a number of leaders belonging to the major groups — the ULFA, the NDFB and the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel). Mr. Gogoi, who was seated next to Mr. Chidambaram during the media briefing, said he would come out with the details later.

While the ULFA leaders, including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, have been demanding their release to enable them to take a decision on the talks offer, the outfit's self-styled commander-in-chief, Paresh Barua, has been maintaining that there could be no talks minus the issue of “Assam's sovereignty.”

NDFB founder-president Ranjan Daimary has expressed a willingness to sit for talks but he too is insisting on his being released first.