Updated December 29th, 2023 at 18:04 IST
HISTORIC: ULFA peace deal inked, new dawn beckons
The Centre, Assam govt and the ULFA signed a peace accord in an attempt to end insurgency in the state.
New Delhi: The Central government, the Assam government and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), on Friday, will sign a peace accord shortly in an attempt to end insurgency in the state.
The signing of the historic peace accord will be done in New Delhi in presence of Home Minister Amit Shah, delegates of the ULFA and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.
This comes after a 30-member delegation including 16 from the ULFA and 14 from the civil society arrived in the national capital earlier this week.
The ULFA, formed on April 7, 1979 at the historic Ahom-era amphitheatre Rang Ghar at Sivasagar by a group of 20 youngsters from Upper Assam districts, had expressed willingness for talks on several occasions but had been firm on its stand on 'sovereignty'.
It was only after the outfit split for the second time in 2011 with the top leadership, including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, returning to Assam from a neighbouring country that they agreed to come to the negotiating table without the sovereignty clause and submitted a 12-point charter of demands to the central government. The outfit had earlier split in 1992 with a section of leaders and cadres expressing a desire for talks but both Rajkhowa and Barua had then been firm on the 'sovereignty' clause.
In September 2005, the ULFA constituted an 11-member 'People's Consultative Group' (PCG) to prepare the grounds for an eventual negotiation which was welcomed by the government. The PCG, headed by eminent Jnanpith award-winning author Indira (Mamoni) Raisom Goswami, held three rounds of talks with the Centre but it failed to make any headway.
ULFA continued with violent activities, targeted mostly at tea estates and oil pipelines, but cracks had developed in the outfit with the leaders of its 28th Battalion, led by Mrinal Hazarika and Jiten Dutta declaring a unilateral ceasefire on June 24, 2008. In December 2009, top ULFA leaders, including Rajkhowa, were arrested in Bangladesh and deported to India and jailed in Guwahati.
The jailed ULFA leaders took the initiative of forming the 'Citizen Forum', comprising intellectuals, writers, journalists and professionals from various fields to urge the government for talks.
Rajkhowa and the other jailed ULFA leaders were released from prison in 2011 while the outfit's general secretary Anup Chetia was released from a Bangladesh jail in 2015, after serving a term of 18 years since 1997.
Talks were being held periodically since then with the Centre and the ULFA (pro-talks) faction with the latter submitting a 12-point charter of demands to the government in 2012.
As part of the negotiations, the ULFA put forth a 12-point charter before the government in 2011 demanding constitutional and political arrangement and reforms, and protection of identity and resources for the state's indigenous population.
The Centre had sent a draft of the proposed agreement to the pro-talks faction in April this year. Another round of discussion was held with the faction in New Delhi in August. In October, Chetia had said the pro-talks faction had sent its suggestions regarding the draft proposals to the Centre.
(With PTI inputs)
Published December 29th, 2023 at 16:15 IST