Guwahati: Negotiations between Arabinda Rajkhuwa-Anup Chetia-led United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Government of India (GOI) seemed to have reached a head. The draft, framed as the two sides reached a consensus, will be forwarded to the Home Ministry for approval.
“Talks with the interlocutor are going on, but the negotiations are almost completed. The Interlocutor shall make the draft on agreed points between ULFA and GOI shortly. After due consent from the Home Ministry, the draft file will be forwarded for the PMO’s final approval,” a top leader of the rebel group told News18.
The ULFA leader, however, refused to reveal details about the draft agreement and said that it will be released publicly after the government’s approval.
“We are hopeful that the Government of India will sign the agreement very soon. However, we cannot ascertain the exact date on which the agreement will be signed. It totally depends on Government of India. We hope that agreement will be signed by early 2020,” ULFA’s general secretary, Anup Chetia said.
The ULFA was founded on April 7, 1979, in Sivsagar, Assam by a few youths, including Paresh Baruah, Arabinda Rajkhowa, Anup Chetia, Pradip Gogoi, Bhadreshwar Gohain and Budheswar Gogoi. The organisation's purpose was to engage in an armed struggle to form a socialist Assam.
After a major crackdown in Bangladesh, the ULFA leadership had initiated talks with the Indian government in October, 2011. The group’s charter of demands includes Constitutional amendments to give Assam greater control over its natural resources, revenue generation, and participation in the planning process, ensuring a secure demographic situation, besides accelerated and balanced development.
In its 'charter of demands', the ULFA also demand a change to the law and order framework, which isn’t possible under the current provisions of the Constitution. Among other demands are discussion on grounds for ‘ULFA's struggle and their genuineness’, a status report on missing ULFA leaders and cadres - numbering around 50, including those missing since 2005 when the Bhutan government conducted offensives.
Contrarily the Paresh Baruah-lead ULFA (Independent) had refused to come to the negotiating table with the government unless sovereignty is made the main agenda for discussion.