MHA Invites ULFA For Talks On Nov 24
Ulfa's Anup Chetia deported by Bangladesh to India
NEW DELHI: The central government has decided to open channels for a final peace accord with the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), now that the militant organisation’s general secretary Anup Chetia has been deported to India by Bangladesh.
Senior leaders of the pro-talks ULFA faction said that, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has invited them for talks on November 24.
According to analysts, the NDA government is keen to sign the memorandum of settlement (MOS) with ULFA before the 2016 assembly polls in Assam.
The prime objective of the pro-talks faction led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa was to bring back the jailed founder member of ULFA Anup Chetia.
Dr M Amarjeet Singh, Associate Professor in the Center for North East Studies and Policy Research of Jamia Millia Islamia college told this reporter, “The initiative is certainly a positive step. However, there have been lot of issues that need to be looked at. There are layers of complexities that the government needs to understand.”
Chetia is wanted in nine cases registered with the Assam Police, including that of murder and extortion. There are cases under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act which are currently being tried by the Special TADA Court, Guwahati.
Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju had earlier told reporters that talks with Ulfa will be held after the Diwali festival and the Centre is soon likely to wind up talks with the pro-talks faction of the Ulfa.
Currently, ULFA’s General Secretary Anup Chetia continues to be in CBI custody amidst speculation that he will be part of the proposed dialogue.ULFA’s former former Foreign Secretary Sashadhar Choudhury has stated that Chetia joining the peace talks will not necessarily bring any qualitative change but will add legitimacy to the talks.
Anup Chetia was deported to India on November 11 by Bangladesh, where he was arrested in 1997. He is currently in the custody of CBI. He is likely to be handed to the Assam Government after the apex investigating agency continues questioning the deported founder member of ULFA.
Choudhury, whose real name is Sailen Choudhury, stressed that there was nothing new to add to what the Indian Government knows already, as the existing pro-talk group had comprehensively debated and submitted their agenda of demands and issues since 2010.
Choudhury and several other top functionaries of ULFA including chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who are now members of the pro-talk faction of ULFA, are on bail by the Gauhati High Court since 2010.
One of the reason’s believed to have paralysed India-ULFA peace talks, since it started, was the demand for tribal status for six communities — Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Moran, Muttock and the Adivasi tea garden workers — who are recognized as tribals in other states. The communities together account for 20 percent of the electorate in the state and play a decisive role in more than 40 of the 126 assembly constituencies in six districts of upper Assam.