Debating India

Government for talks with N-E militants

Monday 4 October 2004

GUWAHATI: Declaring that a multi-pronged strategy was being worked out to check insurgency in the Northeast, Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Monday said doors for talks with militants were always open for negotiations.

"We are prepared to sit for talks with insurgents but we cannot talk to a group which is demanding independence. There should be no conditions for talks," he told a press conference in Guwahati at the end of his two-day visit to violence-hit Assam and Nagaland.

Patil said that the doors for talks were not shut but "our primary duty is to protect the lives of the people."

A multi-pronged strategy was being worked out to combat terrorism and there was a proposal that every state in the region should have a nodal officer who would coordinate among themselves to deal with the menace effectively, said Patil.

Patil, who was accompanied by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, visited the violence-hit areas of the state.

Condemning the militant strikes as "cowardly and dastardly acts," he said those involved in these attacks would be dealt with firmly.

"We will take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future," he said.

"Cooperation of all the state governments was required and they must act and function unitedly to deal with the situation effectively," Patil said, adding, the Centre will extend all possible help to the state governments in all possible manner.

Asked about the possibility of external forces behind the attack, the Home Minister said, "We should not jump to conclusions and since investigations are on, I would not like to comment on it."

He said vital clues have been gathered about the Dimapur blasts but these cannot be disclosed now.

On the demand for additional security forces for Assam, he said that it would be sent immediately.

P.S.

in "The Times of India", Monday, October 4, 2004.

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