SHILLONG: The peace talks between the Centre, Assam government, and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) pro-talk faction are scheduled to take place in New Delhi after Independence Day.
This was informed by Anup Chetia, the leader of the outfit, while attending a programme on International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, on August 9.
Chetia also confirmed that discussions would take place in New Delhi with representatives from both governments – Government of India and Government of Assam.
“We are optimistic about reaching a solution with the Government of India before the upcoming general election… The government recognises that by signing an agreement with us, the ULFA pro-talk faction, it will help resolve the issues in Assam,” said Anup Chetia, the leader of the outfit. Chetia also expressed hope that these peace talks would be concluded before 2024. Chetia added that it would benefit Assam and its people if other groups also participated in these negotiations.
While discussions between the pro-talks ULFA faction and Centre began as early as 2011, a final resolution has yet to be reached. The faction alleges that progress has been slow since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power, despite being at an advanced stage during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure.
As convenor of North East Indigenous Peoples’ Forum himself, he also mentioned his in contact with Paresh Baruah, chief of ULFA-I, but asserted that that communication was lacking and their demands were unchanged.
However, Chetia clarified that contrary to popular belief, Baruah is not present in Bangladesh but his whereabouts remain unknown. Despite this uncertainty surrounding Baruah’s location; discussions are ongoing within their group, he said.
It is worth noting that, two days ago Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had extended an invitation for Baruah to visit Assam for one week—a chance for him to witness firsthand how much has changed since the 1980s when he left. Sarma assured Baruah of a safe passage during his visit and expressed hope that ULFA(I) would accept his invitation to engage in peaceful discussions.
The upcoming peace talks hold significant potential for resolving long-standing issues and bringing stability to Assam, thereby benefitting its people as well as the region as a whole.