Assam witnesses historic day as ULFA pro-talks faction inks peace pact

The pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) entered into a tripartite Memorandum of Settlement on Friday, marking a historic occasion for the state of Assam. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who hailed it as a “golden day” for the people of Assam.

Led by chairperson Arabinda Rajkhowa, a 16-member delegation from the ULFA pro-talks faction participated in the peace agreement, joined by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Expressing regret for the prolonged violence, Home Minister Amit Shah emphasised that Assam had endured significant suffering, with approximately 10,000 lives lost since 1979 due to ULFA-related conflicts.

During the signing ceremony, ULFA representatives expressed optimism, stating, “This will bring lasting peace in Assam. I apologise for any wrongdoing from our side.”

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma described the day as historic, noting that 8,700 militants from various organizations had joined the peace accord, effectively putting an end to tribal militancy. He acknowledged the tragic toll of the insurgency, with around 10,000 lives lost, including security personnel, civilians, and ULFA members.

Reflecting on the reasons behind the conflict, Sarma stated, “Nobody has answers why their sons and husbands were killed; those who were killing were also not aware why they are killing.” He credited the Home Ministry for taking decisive steps to negotiate with ULFA and bring closure, asserting that the accord would fulfill the aspirations of the people.

The peace pact, seen as a significant step towards ending decades-old insurgency, was preceded by discussions between the ULFA pro-talks delegation and Home Minister Amit Shah. The ULFA’s general secretary, Anup Chetia, had been in talks with peace interlocutor AK Mishra earlier, conveying the outfit’s suggestions on draft proposals.

The ULFA, formed in 1979, witnessed a split in 2011, leading to the creation of the pro-talks faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa. This faction decided to engage in peace talks, culminating in the recent Memorandum of Settlement. However, the hardline faction, led by Paresh Baruah, remains outside the peace accord. Baruah, reportedly residing along the China-Myanmar border, has maintained opposition to negotiations unless the ‘sovereignty’ clause is included.

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