United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), one of the most powerful militant organizations operating in the northeast region is in the limelight again but this time for a better reason. Attempts to initiate talks with the center and the group are in progress. The group was established in 1979 by Paresh Baruah along with his associates. The group aims to establish a Sovereign Socialist Assam.
In the latest developments the renowned Assamese writer Indira Goswami met PM Manmohan Singh on November 19 to initiate talks with the proscribed group. This step is seen as a path breaking one however the end result is still awaited. In 45 minute long meeting with PM Indira Goswami appealed to the Prime Minister to initiate talks with the militant outfit. Goswami submitted a written appeal on behalf of the ULFA to the PM. ULFA has demanded that the sovereignty issue should be part of the talk process. On 22 November Mr.Singh made his stand clear in Guwahati that “If they shun violence, then I will invite them for talks but violence and talks cannot go on simultaneously”. Further stalking the process, on November 22 the ULFA chief Paresh Baruah said that “The comments made by the PM was not unexpected and not different from that made by his predecessors. It is evident that the Centre’s colonial policy will continue.”
The chances of peace in the two decade old insurgency torn state of Assam seems to very bleak, however Goswami’s attempt has laid the foundation stone for a process. Indira Goswami the recipient of the nations highest literary award the Jnanpith Award association with the ULFA started thirteen years ago when she was invited for attending a function in Northern Assam. Her famous novel “Mamore Dhora Tarowal”(The Rusted Sword) is selected as a must-read by the ULFA for its women cadres.
Prime Minister showed his appreciation for the literary marvel for taking the initiative to bring ULFA to the negotiation table with New Delhi. The letter from the Prime Ministers office to Indira Goswami says that ” the Prime Minister has a special interest for Assam and its people. He, therefore acknowledges the expression of desire by the ULFA for talks with the Government of India.” The letter also said that the Prime Minister welcomed the expressed desires of the ULFA leadership to hold talks with the government of India.
Manmohan Singh has said that he is willing to talk to any “disaffected” group in the country, provided it gave up the path of violence. As per NDTV reports on December 7 the PMO sources said that the “Prime Minister has made the government stand with regard to talks with insurgent outfits clear during his visit to the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir last month.
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