Thursday, February 29, 2024

Olive branch

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The Assam government has held out the olive branch to ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua and given him the assurance that his faction will not be harassed by security agencies if it comes forward to peace talks with the government. It is necessary to find a lasting solution to the 34 year old insurgency in Assam. Assam governor J.B. Patnaik has asked Barua to shun violence. In return no action will be taken against him and his men. The Centre has been in talks with the pro-peace faction of the ULFA led by Arabinda Rajkhawa over the last two years. The group signed a suspension of operation pact in September 2011. Patnaik expressed satisfaction with the progress of the talks. Barua insists on sovereignty and is presumed to be in China. The demand cannot be met, Patnaik said. The people of the state, according to him, have abjured violence and are committed to peace and economic development.

All this seems to be wishful thinking. The governor refused to disclose details of the peace talks. The Rajkhawa faction has signed a 12 point charter of demands which includes amendment to the Constitution for finding a meaningful way to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam. It is not clear why a settlement has not been arrived at in two years. Assam is not really peaceful. Karbis and Bodos have been restive since the Telengana decision. It is unlikely that Barua will attend talks just because the government has offered to turn off the heat on his group. At the same time, in view of continued acts of violence by his group, it will be an abject surrender on Dispur’s part. It is also unlikely that Barua can be persuaded to give up his intransigence about sovereignty which is an unnegotiable demand from New Delhi’s point of view.

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