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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 21:17 IST

Why peace deal is significant chapter in Assam's 40-year-long ULFA insurgency

Despite the notable absence of Paresh Barua-led ULFA faction, which demands discussions on Assam's sovereignty,the settlement is seen as an imp step.

Isha Bhandari
Why peace deal is significant chapter in Assam's 40-year-long ULFA insurgency
Why peace deal is significant chapter in Assam's 40-year-long ULFA insurgency | Image:PTI
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Assam: A historic chapter in Assam's tumultuous 44-year journey through the ULFA insurgency is unfolding with the recent signing of a tripartite Memorandum of Settlement in New Delhi. The accord, involving the pro-talks faction, marks a significant milestone, attempting to address the longstanding issues stemming from a movement that evolved into an armed struggle marred by kidnappings, extortions, killings, and bomb blasts.

Despite the absence of the Paresh Barua-led ULFA (Independent) faction, which demands discussions on Assam's sovereignty,the settlement is seen as an important step forward. The Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma later told the Republic that talks will also begin with Barua as he “also wanted the peace accord to be completed so that next level discussion be completed.”

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The ULFA's journey, originating in 1979 and influenced by insurgency in neighboring Nagaland and Mizoram, had garnered support among rural masses initially. 

However, escalating violence led to a turning point in 1990 with 'Operation Bajrang' and subsequent events, including the declaration of Assam as a 'disturbed area' under AFSPA.

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Attempts for negotiation with the ULFA have been ongoing since 1991, with the recent accord being the first major breakthrough, despite its perceived incompleteness. The split in 2011 and subsequent return of leaders, including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, paved the way for talks without the 'sovereignty' clause.

The ULFA's complex history involves splits, surrenders, and military operations, with milestones like 'Operation Rhino' in 1991 and 'Operation All Clear' in 2003. Various attempts to bring the ULFA to the negotiating table, including the formation of the 'People's Consultative Group' in 2005, faced challenges, and the outfit continued violent activities.

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Recent years have seen incarcerated ULFA leaders taking initiatives, forming the 'Citizen Forum,' and engaging in periodic talks with the government. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's 2021 ceasefire offer to the ULFA (I) demonstrated a willingness for dialogue, yet recent blasts by the outfit indicate the persisting challenges in achieving a comprehensive resolution.

The Memorandum of Settlement is hailed as a crucial step that is set to usher in a new era in Assam's development and India's unity. 

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(Inputs from PTI)

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Published December 29th, 2023 at 20:05 IST

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