The Asam Sahitya Sabha has appealed to the Centre, state government and the anti-talks Ulfa (I) led by Paresh Barua to come forward and initiate peace talks for an honourable settlement.
Convener of the Sabha’s constitution amendment committee, Girish Handique, on Sunday said: “Delegates of the Sabha’s district committees have strongly raised concern over the Ulfa (I) issue. Accordingly, the Sabha’s central executive unanimously took a resolution to appeal to the Centre, state government and the Ulfa (I) led by Paresh Barua to sit for a mutually-respectful discussion to find an honourable settlement.”
On Tuesday, the Assam government urged Ulfa (I) to join talks.
Senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said the government was ready to talk with them and other insurgent groups. State BJP president Ranjeet Dass and Assam Public Works (an NGO) president Abhijeet Sharma also urged Barua to hold talks with the Centre.
However, Barua made it clear that he would not accept the government’s talks offer unless “sovereignty” was included in the agenda of the discussion.
Appealing to the Centre, the state government and Barua to create a mutually-respectful ambience, Handique said: “The long-awaited peace talks must be mutually respectful. Only an honourable settlement through discussion and negotiation can restore peace in the state.”
According to Handique, the central executive also urged the Centre and the state government to ensure political, cultural and land rights of the indigenous non-Bodo communities residing in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). “The newly introduced BTR should not violate the rights and privileges of the indigenous non-Bodo communities. We appeal to the Centre and the state government to address their concerns with-out creating further conflict.”
The delegates’ meeting held on Saturday was the last sitting for the 2018-20 session presided by its president Paramananda Rajbongshi.
On Sunday, Sabha’s newly-elected president and noted litterateur Kuladhar Saikia was welcomed to the Jyoti Kshetra, the main venue of the Sualkuchi conference, through a cultural rally.
Saikia, who retired as the state’s director-general of police, along with outgoing Sabha president Paramananda Rajbongshi together attended the first open session of 2020-2022 term at the Jyoti Kshetra.
Saikia will formally take charge as the new Sabha president on April 1 though he was welcomed as the new president on Sunday at the 75th Sualkuchi conference.