Landmark Peace Pact: ULFA and Government to Sign Historic Agreement in Delhi
Landmark Peace Pact: ULFA and Government to Sign Historic Agreement in Delhi

Guwahati: In a significant development, a peace dialogue spanning over a decade between the central government and a faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is poised to reach fruition. The Memorandum of Settlement is scheduled to be signed in the national capital this evening, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in attendance.

A 30-member delegation, comprising 16 ULFA members and 14 representatives from civil society, arrived in Delhi earlier this week for the crucial negotiations. The signing ceremony, set for 5 pm, will involve the government of India, the government of Assam, and ULFA representatives.

Background of ULFA and the Peace Process

ULFA, formed in April 1979, emerged in response to an agitation against undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh. The insurgency stemmed from concerns among locals in Assam about demographic changes and the potential threat to their culture, land, and political rights.

The group split into two factions in 2011, with the pro-talk faction, led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, opting for negotiations and the other group, ULFA (Independent), led by Paresh Barua, opposing talks without discussing the 'sovereignty' clause.

The pro-talks faction, led by Rajkhowa, renounced violence and engaged in unconditional talks with the government. Anup Chetia, another top ULFA leader, later joined the pro-talks group.

Current Developments and Talks in the Final Stage

Anup Chetia, presently in Delhi, indicated that talks between ULFA and the government were in the final stage. In 2011, ULFA submitted a 12-point charter of demands to the government, covering constitutional and political arrangements, protection of identity and resources of the indigenous population, among others.

The Union government sent a draft agreement in April, leading to extensive talks with officials before the signing of the peace pact. This deal, once finalized, will leave ULFA (Independent), led by Paresh Baruah, as the major insurgent outfit in the state.

Under Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's leadership, over 7,000 insurgents from various rebel groups have laid down their arms to join mainstream society since May 2021. The government has implemented rehabilitation programs for the reintegration of former insurgents into mainstream life.

Sarma has consistently urged ULFA(I) leader Paresh Baruah to return to the mainstream and contribute to the state's ongoing development. He emphasizes the importance of resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue.

Decades-long Insurgency and Path to Peace

Assam has grappled with a prolonged insurgency, leading to operations by central paramilitary and armed forces. Operations such as Operation Bajrang and Operation Rhino were conducted against ULFA. Insurgency activities prompted the imposition of the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Assam in 1980, now limited to a few districts in Upper Assam.

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