Tripartite peace accord to be inked between ULFA, Centre and Assam government today
NEW DELHI — A tripartite peace accord between the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and the central and Assam governments will be signed here on Friday, aiming to end decades-old insurgency in the northeastern state, officials said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and more than a dozen top leaders of the pro-talks faction of the ULFA, headed by Arabinda Rajkhowa, will be present during the signing of the peace agreement here.
The accord will take care of a host of long-standing political, economic and social issues concerning Assam, besides providing cultural safeguards and land rights to the indigenous people, the officials said.
On Thursday evening, the Assam Chief Minister’s Office posted on ‘X’: ”A Memorandum of Settlement will be signed between the Government of India, Government of Assam and representatives of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in presence of the Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Sh. Amit Shah tomorrow at 5 pm in New Delhi”.
Assam CM Sarma also retweeted the post.
‼️#INFO: A Memorandum of Settlement will be signed between Government of India, Government of Assam and representatives of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in presence of Union Home Minister & Minister of Cooperation, Sh. Amit Shah tomorrow at 5 pm in New Delhi— Chief Minister Assam (@CMOfficeAssam) December 28, 2023
The hardline faction of the ULFA, led by Paresh Baruah, will not be part of the agreement as he has been consistently rejecting the olive branch offered by the government.
Two top leaders of the Rajkhowa group — Anup Chetia and Sashdhar Choudhary — have been in the national capital since last week and gave the final touches to the peace agreement along with government interlocutors, the sources said.
Those who have been talking to the ULFA faction from the government side include Director of the Intelligence Bureau Tapan Deka and the government’s advisor on the Northeast affairs A K Mishra.
The ULFA was formed in 1979 at the historic Rang Ghar, an Ahom era amphitheater, in Sivasagar and was banned in 1990 when it started an armed conflict against the state.
The outfit split into two factions in 2011 when the pro-talks faction led by Rajkhowa decided to return to the state from abroad and participate in peace talks while the other group ULFA (Independent), led by its commander Paresh Barua was opposed to negotiations unless the ‘sovereignty’ clause was included.
The pro-talks faction had submitted a 12-point charter of demands for the discussions.
These demands cover constitutional and political arrangements, protection of the identity and material resources of the local indigenous population of Assam, financial and economic arrangements, a status report on missing ULFA leaders and cadres, amnesty, reintegration and rehabilitation of ULFA members and affected people, among others.
The demands also encompassed the right to engage in specific relationships with foreign countries for promotion of mutual trade, commerce and cultural relationship, restoration, protection, preservation and spread of indigenous culture of Assam.
The chief minister on assuming office in 2021 had sent out an olive branch to the ULFA for talks with the latter announcing a ceasefire of operations but recently it carried out three blasts in Tinsukia, Sivasagar and Jorhat which they claimed was in response to the ‘arrogant’ attitude of Director General of Police G P Singh.
Opposition parties and civil society in Assam are skeptical about the relevance of the proposed accord with the ULFA pro-talks faction. They said as long as the ULFA (Independent) does not participate in discussions, it will not bring peace to the state.