Assam, ULFA, Centre likely to sign Tripartite Peace Agreement tomorrow

In a significant development towards achieving peace in Assam, sources have revealed that a tripartite accord is likely to be signed on December 29. The agreement involves the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the central government, and the Assam state government. The aim of this accord is to address longstanding political, economic, and social issues in the northeastern state, providing cultural safeguards and land rights to indigenous people.

Scheduled to be present at the signing ceremony are Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and more than a dozen top leaders of the pro-talks faction of ULFA, headed by Arabinda Rajkhowa. This marks a significant step towards reconciliation and resolution of issues that have persisted for years.

The peace agreement, according to sources familiar with the matter, will encompass a wide range of issues, with a focus on political, economic, and social concerns specific to Assam. Additionally, it aims to ensure cultural safeguards and land rights for the indigenous population, addressing their longstanding grievances.

Notably, the hardline faction of ULFA, led by Paresh Baruah, will not be part of the agreement, as they have consistently rejected overtures from the government. The absence of this faction from the accord underscores the challenges of achieving a comprehensive peace settlement that involves all factions.

Two key leaders of the Rajkhowa-led ULFA faction, Anup Chetia and Sashdhar Choudhary, recently met with government interlocutors in the national capital to finalize the details of the peace agreement. The government’s representatives in these talks include Director of the Intelligence Bureau Tapan Deka and Northeast affairs advisor A K Mishra.

The Rajkhowa-led ULFA faction initiated unconditional talks with the central government in 2011, despite opposition from the hardline faction led by Paresh Baruah. The ULFA, formed in 1979 with the demand for a ‘sovereign Assam,’ has been involved in subversive activities, leading to its designation as a banned outfit by the central government in 1990.

The Rajkhowa faction engaged in peace talks with the government on September 3, 2011, following the signing of an agreement for the Suspension of Operations (SoO) between the ULFA, central, and state governments. The upcoming tripartite accord is seen as a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to bring sustainable peace to the region.

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