Government holds peace talks with ULFA
New Delhi: In its efforts to bring lasting peace in Assam, the Centre today held talks with ULFA and discussed the group`s demands to find a permanent solution to the three-decade-old insurgency in the Northeastern state.
Top government officials led by Union Home Secretary R K Singh held the dialogue with the six-member ULFA delegation, led by its `chairman` Arabinda Rajkhowa, and discussed the outfit`s `charter of demands`.
"The meeting with ULFA leaders was fruitful. We discussed the 12-point charter of demands," Singh said after the meeting which was also attended by representatives of Assam government and the Centre`s interlocutor P C Halder.
During the two-hour-long talks, both sides discussed observance of ground rules for ceasefire signed by both sides, surrender of arms and ammunition and total halt of operations by security forces against the pro-talk faction, Home Ministry sources said.
Rajkhowa said they have also raised the issue of illegal immigration, constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of Assam and permanent solution to the flood problem.
In the `charter of demands`, the outfit sought amendment in the Constitution for finding "meaningful" ways to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam.
Sources said the ULFA team sought the government`s help to bring back its `general secretary` Anup Chetia, who is in a Dhaka jail. They also sought the Centre`s nod to travel to Bangladesh to meet the jailed colleague.
Other demands of the group 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 Bhutan government had conducted offensives, and other socio-economic issues.
The ULFA has entered into formal peace talks with the government after a 32-year-old violent insurgency movement. On September 3, 2011, the group signed the Suspension of Operation pact with the government.
Rajkhowa led an eight-member team during introductory talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram in February, 2011.
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.