Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been authorised by Union home minister Amit Shah to engage with the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) to prepare the ground for peace talks with the armed outfit.
Sarma himself revealed Shah’s go-ahead hours before flying to Dimapur to hold talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) for an early resolution to the Naga political issue to end one of the longest running insurgencies in Asia. The hour-long meeting on Tuesday afternoon with the NSCN (I-M) leadership was Sarma’s first.
The Ulfa (I) was formed in 1979 to secure sovereignty for Assam.
Sarma, who is also convener of the North East Democratic Alliance (Neda), a forum of non-Congress parties, said ongoing peace initiatives in the region, among others, figured in his meeting with Shah in Delhi on Monday.
“I raised the issue of talks with the Ulfa (I)… whether I can talk to the group if the Ulfa (I) wants. I was then told to hold preliminary talks. Now I can talk to the Ulfa (I) directly. Once we reach a certain stage and if everything goes to plan, the Centre will step in as is usually the case and take the process forward. But it will take some time for something concrete to emerge,” Sarma said, adding that unofficial parleys through a “third party” was on.