Thursday, February 22, 2024

Centre-ULFA sign peace pact

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New Delhi: In its effort to bring lasting peace in Assam, the government on Saturday signed an agreement with the banned ULFA to end violence in the troubled state and set the ball rolling for peace talks.

The Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact, signed by the representatives of central and Assam governments and ULFA, will ensure that the outfit will not carry out any subversive activities till finding a political solution to the vexed insurgency problem while the security forces will also not take any action against the ULFA cadres.

The SoO pact will continue during the political talks and till a final agreement is signed.

Members of the rebel group — numbering around 600 — will be put in special camps which will be called as nabanirman kendras.

Asked whether ULFA cadres will surrender all arms and ammunition, the outfit’s ‘foreign secretary’ Sashadhar Choudhury shot back saying, “why should we? This is not a final agreement.”

Last month, ULFA had submitted to the Centre its ‘charter of demands’ which sought amendment in the Constitution for finding “meaningful” ways to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam.

The group also demanded change of rules and law and said a solution to their demands was not possible under the provisions of the existing Constitution.

The other demands of the ULFA include discussion on grounds for “ULFA’s struggle and their genuineness”, status report on missing ULFA leaders and cadres — numbering around 50 — including those missing since 2005 when the Bhutan government conducted an offensive against the outfit and other socio-economic issues.

Those who signed Saturday’s SoO agreement include Joint Secretary Singh, Assam Home Commissioner Jishnu Baruah, ULFA’s Choudhury, ‘finance secretary’ Chitrabon Hazarika, and ‘deputy commander-in-chief’ Raju Baruah.

This was ULFA’s first formal peace talks with the government in its 32-year-old history. So far, only preliminary talks between the ULFA and Centre’s interlocutor PC Haldar have been held in Guwahati. (PTI)

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