PM visiting Assam from Friday

Thursday, February 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - Ahead of assembly elections in Assam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday goes on a two-day visit to the northeastern state, where he will review the law and order situation and the peace process initiated with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Manmohan Singh will meet Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and is expected to review development projects in the state that is expected to hold elections April-May. He will address a rally on rural development in Kamrup district, lay foundation stone for the country’s second National Institute of Design in Jorhat, and also lay the foundation stone for the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Petroleum Technology in Sibsagar.

The prime minister is also expected to find out reactions in the state to the peace dialogue his government has initiated with the top ULFA leadership.

In his televised interaction with editors of TV channels Thursday, Manmohan Singh had said that he had assured the ULFA delegation that the government of India was absolutely serious about finding an honourable solution to issues relating to the state.

A delegation of the ULFA leaders met Manmohan Singh Monday, days after the central government initiated talks with the outlawed militant group to end 30 long years of insurgency in Assam.

The ULFA, one of the biggest rebel outfits in the tea and oil-rich region of Assam, has fought for an independent homeland for ethnic Assamese since 1979.

At least 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Assam because of fighting between government forces and various rebel groups. The eight ULFA leaders who took part in the talks last week with Home Minister P. Chidambaram are out on bail, with the government facilitating their release from jail in order to pave the way for negotiations.

Apart from Arabind Rajhkowa, the other ULFA leaders who participated in the talks included vice chairman Pradeep Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka and political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.

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