ULFA signs peace pact with govt

The government signed an agreement with the banned ULFA to end violence in Assam and set the ball rolling for peace talks.

New Delhi: In its effort to bring lasting
peace in Assam, the government on Saturday signed an agreement with
the banned ULFA to end violence in the troubled northeastern
state and set the ball rolling for peace talks.

The Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact, signed by the
representatives of central and Assam governments and ULFA,
will ensure that the outfit will not carry out any subversive
activities till finding a political solution to the vexed
insurgency problem while the security forces will also not
take any action against the ULFA cadres.

"We had a very good round of talks. The SoO agreement was
signed. The first round spells out the road to political
dialogue. It is the harbinger of future talks," Joint
Secretary (Northeast) in the Ministry of Home Affairs Shambhu
Singh told reporters here.
The SoO pact will continue during the political talks and
till a final agreement is signed.

The meeting deliberated in detail on various aspects of
the ground rules of the SoO and how to maintain peace in

Members of the rebel group -- numbering around 600 -- will
be put in special camps which will be called as `nabanirman

Asked whether ULFA cadres will surrender all arms and
ammunition, the outfit`s `foreign secretary` Sashadhar
Choudhury shot back saying, "why should we? This is not a
final agreement."

"This is a gentleman`s agreement. We will see how the
parleys go forward," Choudhury said.
Last month, ULFA had submitted to the Centre its `charter
of demands` which sought amendment in the Constitution for
finding "meaningful" ways to protect the rights and identity
of the indigenous people of Assam.

The group also demanded change of rules and law and said a
solution to their demands was not possible under the
provisions of the existing Constitution.

The other demands of the ULFA include discussion on
grounds for "ULFA`s struggle and their genuineness", status
report on missing ULFA leaders and cadres -- numbering around
50 -- including those missing since 2005 when the Bhutan
government conducted an offensive against the outfit and other
socio-economic issues.

Those who signed today`s SoO agreement include Joint
Secretary Singh, Assam Home Commissioner Jishnu Baruah, ULFA`s
Choudhury, `finance secretary` Chitrabon Hazarika, and `deputy
commander-in-chief` Raju Baruah.

This was ULFA`s first formal peace talks with the
government in its 32-year-old history. So far, only
preliminary talks between the ULFA and Centre`s interlocutor
P C Haldar have been held in Guwahati.

ULFA`s elusive `commander-in-chief` Paresh Baruah is still
opposed to any dialogue with the government till `sovereignty`
issue is not on the table.


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