Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Constructive talks


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The Centre has described the ongoing peace talks with the ULFA as very constructive. Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said this about the first round of talks on ULFA demands held on October 25 in New Delhi. It was made clear that the venue of further rounds of talks would continue to be New Delhi. The interlocutors, the Assam government and the ULFA have been requested to sit together. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, however, was guarded in his comments and said that it was too early to give any indication of where the dialogue would go and where it would lead. He added that it was the general practice that any talks should be preceded by surrender of arms by the rebels. The government would also suspend military operations. But the Centre has dropped hints that it may not press for surrender of arms by the ULFA. Chidambaram thinks that there can be a parallel analysis of the talks as they go on. The Home Minister refused to disclose details of the discussions with the Myanmar government about whether it would launch an offensive against Northeastern rebels.

After his somewhat tactless remarks in Kolkata about talks with the Maoists without preconditions, Chidambaram has been more circumspect in his observations about the ULFA which put a question mark over the Home Secretary’s optimism. But it has to be admitted that the ULFA has climbed down in its demands. It made no mention of sovereignty or of autonomy. ULFA leaders wanted an end to the discrimination by the Centre against the people of Assam. Here Arabinda Rajkhawa and Tarun Gogoi should be on the same page. But the first round of talks was only a prelude. One cannot tell how long it will take to arrive at a political settlement. Paresh Barua still casts a long shadow over future prospects. Negotiations

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