The designated TADA court here granted conditional bail to United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa on Thursday.

Mr. Rajkhowa is now expected to be released from jail on New Year's Day once his family members complete all the legal formalities. The development is expected to expedite efforts to work out the modalities of the much awaited peace talks.

Mr. Rajkhowa's counsel and senior advocate Bijan Mahajan told journalists that conditional bail had been granted in all the six TADA cases pending against the ULFA chairman. “The bail amount has been fixed at Rs. 1 lakh with two sureties of a like amount. At the same time, he has been directed to deposit his passport, if he possessed one, to the TADA court. He cannot leave Assam without permission from the police station concerned. He has been directed not to hamper the investigations, tamper with witnesses or cause any offence while on bail.”

The State government facilitated the release of Mr. Rajkhowa and other jailed ULFA leaders by informing the courts concerned that it had no objection to the grant of bail to the insurgent leaders.

Mr. Rajkhowa's elder brother Ajay Rajkonwar, elder sister Chandrama Rajkumari and other relatives who were waiting for the pronouncement of the verdict said they were happy. “We cannot express in words how happy we are. My brother will be able to come out in the open and move freely after decades,” said Mr. Rajkonwar. “We all hope that his release will expedite the peace process. We also expect that once the ULFA and the government sit for talks, they will be able address to all the burning problems of Assam to a great extent.” When he was produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate here on December 5, 2009 after his arrest in Bangladesh, the ULFA chairman ruled out talks with handcuffs on. He wanted all arrested ULFA leaders to be freed to create a conducive atmosphere.

Keywords: ULFATADAterrorism