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Giving peace a new chance in Assam

By K Anurag
September 25, 2010 09:08 IST
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With 20 more key leaders and members coming out of the ranks of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam deserting its shelters in Bangladesh, the peace efforts aimed at bringing the proscribed militant outfit from the northeast for negotiations has received major boost.

This is significant given that some of these ULFA leaders were known to be staunch loyalists of the outfit's self-styled and fugitive 'commander in chief' Paresh Barua who has been the main hurdle in the peace process.

The 'surrender' (as termed by Paresh Barua himself) by his key aides in the outfit has virtually left Barua isolated in the anti-talks faction of the outfit, which is definitely auguring well for the efforts to start political negotiation with the outfit minus him to find a political settlement to the over 30-year-old ULFA problem in Assam.

Barua has remained firm on discussing only the demand for 'sovereignty of Assam' with the government of India, thereby throwing spanner in the efforts to bring about peace negotiation with the jailed top leaders of the outfit (including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa) who have shown interest in talking with the government within the ambit of Indian Constitution provided they are released from the jail.

The government has also been maintaining that it is possible to hold dialogue with the ULFA without the presence of Barua.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi once said that the government would not wait inordinately for Barua to come forward to hold dialogue.

The government was just waiting for some close associates of Barua to show interest in holding a dialogue and that is what has happened following the latest 'surrender' of 20-odd ULFA leaders.

At least four of them -- 'captains' Bhaiti Baruah, Biju Deka, Pradyut Gohain and Anu Buragohain -- were known to be loyal and trusted men of Barua. This is construed to be major gain for Indian government vis--vis its effort to solve the ULFA problem.
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K Anurag in Guwahati