Regular-article-logo Thursday, 21 September 2023

After Bodo pact, eye on Ulfa talks

APW backs peace plea to Barua

Pranjal Baruah Guwahati Published 29.01.20, 06:37 PM
APW president Aabhijeet Sharma

APW president Aabhijeet Sharma Telegraph picture

A day after Dispur invited the banned Ulfa (I) for peace talks, Assam Public Works (APW), an anti-militant forum formed in 2000, threw its weight behind the initiative and asked leading organisations in the state to support the move to usher in permanent peace.

APW said recent mainstreaming of all the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) factions, which signed a new Bodo Accord on Monday, has brought a ray of hope for durable peace and prosperity in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) area.


“Similarly, to instil permanent peace in the state, Paresh Barua has to join the peace talks. Unless he or his faction joins, no peace pact can yield the desired result. His joining is a must. Therefore, the people of Assam and all organisations should welcome the government’s move and welcome the Ulfa (I) leader if he decides to join the peace process,” APW president Aabhijeet Sharma told The Telegraph.

Urging the pro-talk factions of Ulfa, which is already in talks, to invite Barua for a lasting solution to the decades-long Ulfa movement, Sharma said efforts should be made to check people who have been using the name of Barua to further their own ends.

Peace talks between Ulfa led by Arabinda Rajkhowa and the Centre are in the final stages, focussing on the key demands of constitutional safeguards for the indigenous people of Assam, resolving the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh and details of the whereabouts of 50 leaders and cadres, who went missing from its erstwhile headquarters in Bhutan during the flush-out operation launched in the neighbouring country in 2005.

Formed in 1979 with the objective of restoring Assam’s sovereignty, Ulfa began its armed revolution. In June 2008, two companies of Ulfa’s 28 battalion announced the first unilateral ceasefire and subsequently its leaders joined talks with the Centre in 2011 after the outfit’s top leadership was flushed out from Bangladesh and subsequently arrested in India.

The Ulfa (I) was formed in 2012. Barua stayed away from the talks as the Centre was against discussing the issue of a “sovereign” Assam, his key demand. The outfit’s strength is said to be between 150 and 300 while that of the Ulfa is about 1,400.

The last attempt to get Barua to the talks table by the People’s Consultative Group, whose members were chosen by the outfit, lasted for about three years from 2005 when the Congress was in power. Those in the know say the deal was almost done but reports about Barua unwilling to come overground derailed the efforts, of which litterateur Mamomi Raisom Goswami was a key player.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi said on Wednesday, “The Congress was ready for discussions with Barua but not on sovereignty. We wanted talks within the Constitution.”

Anup Chetia alias Golap Baruah, general secretary of Ulfa and Barua’s cousin, told The Telegraph that it would be a great boost to the talks if Barua joined. He said they were in touch.

The BJP’s Assam unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass also appealed to Barua to join the peace process and end militancy in the state.

Additional reporting by Mohsin Khaiyam

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