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ULFA, Centre, Assam govt to sign accord in New Delhi on Friday

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ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa

ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa (File image)

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister's Office has announced that a tripartite memorandum of settlement between the ULFA (pro-talks faction) and the central and state governments will be signed in New Delhi on Friday.

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''A Memorandum of Settlement will be signed between the Government of India, Government of Assam and representatives of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in presence of the Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Sh. Amit Shah tomorrow at 5 pm in New Delhi'', the CMO posted on 'X' on Thursday.

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Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is scheduled to be present during the signing, also retweeted the post.

A16-member delegation of the ULFA pro-talks faction, led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, reached New Delhi on Wednesday to hold discussions with Shah before the signing of the accord.

The outfit's general secretary, Anup Chetia, has been camping in New Delhi since Monday and held talks with the peace interlocutor AK Mishra on Tuesday.

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The Centre had sent a draft of the proposed agreement to the pro-talks faction in April, while another round of discussions were held with the faction in New Delhi in August.

In October, Chetia had said they had sent their suggestions regarding the draft proposals to the Centre.

The ULFA was formed in 1979 at the historic Rang Ghar, an Ahom era amphitheater, in Sivasagar and was banned in 1990 when it started an armed conflict against the state.

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The outfit split into two factions in 2011 when the pro-talks faction led by Rajkhowa decided to return to the state from abroad and participate in peace talks while the other group ULFA (Independent), led by its commander Paresh Barua was opposed to negotiations unless the 'sovereignty' clause was included.

The pro-talks faction had submitted a 12-point charter of demands for the discussions.

These demands cover constitutional and political arrangements, protection of the identity and material resources of the local indigenous population of Assam, financial and economic arrangements, a status report on missing ULFA leaders and cadres, amnesty, reintegration and rehabilitation of ULFA members and affected people, among others.

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The demands also encompassed the right to engage in specific relationships with foreign countries for promotion of mutual trade, commerce and cultural relationship, restoration, protection, preservation and spread of indigenous culture of Assam.

The chief minister on assuming office in 2021 had sent out an olive branch to the ULFA(I) for talks with the latter announcing a ceasefire of operations but recently it carried out three blasts in Tinsukia, Sivasagar and Jorhat which they claimed was in response to the ‘arrogant’ attitude of Director General of Police G P Singh.

Opposition parties and civil society in Assam are skeptical about the relevance of the proposed accord with the ULFA pro-talks faction. They said as long as the ULFA(Independent) does not participate in discussions, it will not bring peace to the state.

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