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UPDS - govt talks fruitful
Correspondent DIPHU, OCT 24:
Published on 25 Oct. 2009 1:05 AM IST
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The seventh round of talks between the United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity and the union government was held on October 22 at New Delhi, where the radical Karbi organisation was learnt to have placed its charter of demands to the government. The UPDS leaders, before leaving for New Delhi had expressed optimism over the particular round of talk. While the Assam government was represented by Principal Home Secretary Subhas Das, IGP, Special Cell, Khogen Sharma and others, the union government was represented by home secretary for north east, Nabin Varma. A close source within the UPDS said that the charter of demands which the outfit placed before the Central government included granting of an interim Council under the new name Karbi Anglong Territorial Council with 45 government departments adding 15 new departments to the existing 30 under the control of KAAC by the concerned authority and a large monetary package. The other demands which the organization placed before the union government included request for elaborate sports infrastructure in the district and payment of financial assistance per month for each cadre of the militant organization. Speaking to media persons, Principal Home Secretary, Subhas Das hinted that the demands placed by the UPDS leadership might be solved during this round of talk itself or might require one more round of talks involving the three sides. He further mentioned that the peace talk was held within the ambit of the Indian Constitution and has reached a final stage. The seventh round of talks assumed significance as the union home minister, P. Chidambaram had assured to resolve the UPDS impasse within a stipulated period of 100 days as per the new complete surrender policy of militants by the Central Government. UPDS is favouring amalgamation of other Karbi armed groups and further creation of a single unit under its leadership. This move would however require concurrence from other ultra groups. It may be mentioned that the Centre, on earlier occasions, had straight away rejected UPDS’ demand for separate statehood but informed them that there would be discussion on some of their demands mentioned in the charter of demands. Since the signing of the ceasefire in 2002, the UPDS leadership has had only six rounds of talks with the government. Earlier, the outfit blamed frequent confiscation of weapons, harassment, intimidation and arrests for the demoralisation of UPDS members. The outfit later set two more conditions before the Centre for the talks to resume. In a letter to the joint secretary (Northeast) in the home ministry, UPDS “foreign secretary” Klirdap Kathar said the outfit would sign a fresh ceasefire agreement only if Delhi agreed to hold talks every three months until a solution was reached. The UPDS’ other condition was that its demand for self-rule be included in the terms of reference of the proposed State Reorganization body. Formed in 1999 after the merger of the Karbi National Volunteers and Karbi People’s Front, the UPDS sought the “right to self-rule” for the Karbis under Article 3 of the Constitution, a special economic package for the development of the twin hill districts of Assam and a corridor connecting Karbi Anglong.

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