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ULFA-I likely to sign Peace Accord

ULFA-I likely to sign Peace Accord
GUWAHATI , JAN 28 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 1/28/2020 12:21:59 PM IST

After the Bodoland peace accord was signed on January 27, the United Liberation Front of Assam Independent (ULFA-I) is likely to sign a peace accord with the Centre in April, as per a report in the Outlook.  

ULFA (I) elusive commander, Paresh Barua, is likely to come overground and sign a peace accord with the Centre as early as April to potentially end a decades-old insurgency in the northeastern state, multiple sources confirmed to the Outlook.

One of Barua’s childhood friends, Rebati Phukan—who “disappeared” in April 2018—is said to be acting as the intermediary between the banned outfit and the Centre. He was apparently drafted by Indian intelligence agencies to break the ice with Barua.

“Talks with ULFA are in final stages and an agreement is likely to be signed soon.  Most issues have been resolved with ULFA, including granting constitutional safeguard to the state’s indigenous people. This was one of the main clauses of the Assam Accord,” a source in the Home Ministry said. 

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also dropped broad hints about the Centre’s keenness to engage with Barua. “The Central government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has resolved the demands of the Bodos through the Bodo Peace Accord on Monday. And I have been told that if the ULFA faction shows interest in peace talks, it would be reciprocated by the Centre,” he told newsmen in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Barua leads the Independent faction of the ULFA which has been waging an armed rebellion since 1979 for creation of a “sovereign socialist” Assam.  The ULFA has owned up four explosions in different places of Assam on Republic Day. The home ministry sources described the incidents as “minor irritants” to the peace process.

The Bodoland accord, signed on January 27 between the Centre, Assam government and Bodo outfits, is likely to provide the template for the ULFA peace treaty.

Before the accord is signed, the Centre is also likely to finalise the definition of “Assamese”, people who can be considered eligible for constitutional safeguards under the 1985 Assam Accord. A panel looking into the issue is expected to submit its report to the Centre by mid-February.

Rebati Phukan was part of the now-disbanded People’s Consultative Group, a citizens’ initiative to bring Barua to the negotiating table. The PCG was led by Gnanpith winner Assamese writer late Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

Home ministry sources added that a peace accord with Karbi militant groups was also likely around the same time. 

Meanwhile, another ULFA faction, led by the Arabinda Rajkhowa and Anup Chetia are engaged in peace talks with New Delhi since 2010. Rajkhowa and Chetia are optimistic to sign a peace agreement with New Delhi soon.

The Assam Government has appealed United Liberation Front of Assam Chief Paresh Baruah to come forward for the peace process.

Talking to media persons in Guwahati, Assam Finance Minister and Convenor of North-East Democratic Alliance, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Centre and the State Government would reciprocate if he comes for dialogue. He also appealed militant group of Manipur to come for talks.

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