Guwahati: The Centre and the Assam government held a fresh round of peace talks with the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) on Thursday and Friday in New Delhi. However, no breakthrough was achieved in the talks.
This was the first round of talks since ULFA rejected a draft peace proposal from the Centre in May last year on the grounds that it did not meet its core demands for political and constitutional safeguards for the indigenous people of Assam.
The four-member ULFA team was led by its chairman, Arabinda Rajkhowa, and included general secretary Anup Chetia, Sasadhar Choudhury, and Raju Barua. The government’s team was led by interlocutor AK Mishra and included officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The draft peace deal was based on ULFA’s 12-point charter of demands submitted in 2011, which includes constitutional and political arrangements and reforms, protection of the identity and material resources of the local indigenous population of Assam, and land and natural resources, including the right of natives to the land.
The draft agreement does include land rights for indigenous people as demanded by ULFA, but it does not address the safeguards for the political and constitutional rights of indigenous people, which is a political issue.
ULFA was formed in 1979 for the restoration of Assam‘s sovereignty and was banned by the Centre in 1990. The outfit split after the pro-talks faction led by Rajkhowa joined peace talks on September 3, 2011.
Anup Chetia said after the talks that there was need for more discussions and that the picture would be clearer only after some time. He said the focus now was on discussions and that the next round of talks would be held very soon.
The government has said that it is committed to finding a solution to the ULFA issue through peaceful means. However, it has also made it clear that it will not agree to any demands that are against the interests of the country or the people of Assam.
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