Assam: Center to sign a peace agreement with Ulfa and 3 militant groups soon

GUWAHATI: The peace talks between the Center and the three militant groups, including the United Asom Liberation Front (Ulfa), are in final stages and an agreement is likely to be signed in the coming months.

Conversation partner AB Mathur, former special secretary of the Research and Analysis (RAW) wing, at a book publishing function in New Delhi on Sunday, said: We are having conversations with four groups: three in Assam and one in Manipur. The Assam groups are Ulfa, NDFB (Bodoland National Democratic Front) and the Karbi group, and in it is the Kuki group. The talks with the four groups are progressing satisfactorily and I hope that agreements will be signed in the coming months, particularly with the groups in Assam.

Yes, we are in the final phase (of the talks) and we hope to close the agreement in the next two months. In fact, we are heading to New Delhi for the final round of talks, said Ulfa TOI Secretary General

'Need to identify indigenous peoples'

Another senior Ulfa leader said: So far, progress has been positive and almost all problems have been resolved, except the main problem of granting constitutional safeguards to the indigenous peoples of the state. We need to identify which people are indigenous.

This issue is also one of the clauses of the Assam Agreement, which the Center and the state government signed in 1985 with All Assam Students' Union (Aasu) at the end of the six-year anti-foreign movement in the state.

A panel created by the Interior Ministry under former Gauhati HC judge, BK Sharma, is working on the implementation of Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Agreement, which states: Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards will be provided, as appropriate, to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

This clause has not been fulfilled in the last 34 years. The Ulfa leader said: Initially, we plan on waiting for the committee's report. But, if the panel does not achieve something concrete, what do we do? Then, we decided to continue our negotiation with the interlocutor on this.

The team was formed in 1979 with the objective of restoring the sovereignty of Assam. Later, he lowered his demand for sovereignty. In his letter of demands to the Center in 2011, on the basis of which the talks are held, he again demanded a new look at the issue of Assam's sovereignty. The other key demands are the amendment of the Constitution to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous peoples of Assam, an honorable solution to the three-decade armed conflict, which addresses the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh and the details of the whereabouts of 50 leaders and cadres. , who are reportedly missing from their former headquarters in Bhutan during the cleaning operation initiated in the neighboring country in 2005.

In June 2008, two companies of the 28th Ulfa Battalion announced the first unilateral ceasefire, while three years later, Ulfa agreed to participate unconditionally in the talks with the Center after the main leadership of the team was expelled from Bangladesh and subsequently arrested in India.

The peace talks continued in the midst of a division that Ulfa suffered in 2012. The military commander Paresh Baruah formed Ulfa (independent) and remains out of the peace process. The pro-conversations group is led by the president of Ulfa, Arabinda Rajkhowa.