The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Militants put Karbi ceasefire on notice

March 20: Blaming Dispur for the delay in the start of its proposed 'political talks' with Delhi, the militant United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) today gave the Tarun Gogoi administration less than two weeks to endorse its three main demands or be prepared for an outbreak of violence in the twin districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.

UPDS publicity secretary Tong Eh Nongloda said the Gogoi government must complete the 'state-level formalities ' Dispur has to reply to a set of queries from Delhi on the militant group's demands ' by March 31 if it wants the ceasefire to continue.

He said the peace talks had not begun because the cabinet sub-committee headed by health and family welfare minister Bhumidhar Barman was yet to inform Delhi about the state government's stand on the UPDS' demands.

Union home ministry officials held three rounds of talks with UPDS functionaries until January, but the process remained inconclusive because of the Gogoi government's failure to present its view on the outfit's demands.

On January 24, the cabinet sub-committee was formally reminded to look into the demands and submit a report to Delhi within three months. No such report has been submitted.

'The state government cannot go on prolonging the issue. Our patience is running out. If the government fails to clear its position within the deadline, we will call off the ceasefire,' Nongloda said.

The UPDS professes to be campaigning for a 'self-ruled homeland' for the Karbis under Article 3 of the Constitution, a special economic package for the developmentof Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills and the creation of a corridor joining the eastern and western sections of Karbi Anglong.

The militant group came into being in 1998 after the merger of the Karbi National Volunteers and the Karbi People's Front. It signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in August 2001.

Nongloda said his organisation would have no option but to resume its armed campaign if the Gogoi government continued to be apathetic towards it. 'We will leave for New Delhi by the first week of April to convey to the Union home ministry our decision to review the ceasefire.'

Three influential Karbi organisations have called for a 24-hour Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills bandh on Wednesday to protest the delay in the start of peace talks.

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