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ULFA Drops Sovereignty Pre-Condition For Talks

Paresh Baruah with new team. Image Credit: Times of Assam.

GUWAHATI, Feb 2: The ULFA leadership has finally decided to drop its primary pre-condition of discussion on sovereignty in holding peace talks with the Centre. The decision was “formally taken” for the first time ever by the ULFA’s central executive council and, on Monday, ratified by its general council, which is the highest body in the outfit.

In what could be the beginning of the final showdown between those favoring unconditional talks and the ULFA hardliners led by their commander-in-chief, Paresh Baruah, the outfit’s general council has decided to convey its decision to the fugitive military boss and wait for his reaction.

If Baruah defies the council’s decision and sticks to his stand of not taking part in the peace talks, he would be liable to disciplinary action in accordance with the ULFA constitution, sources in the outfit said. “The action can be as harsh as expulsion from the outfit,” a source said. Baruah has been adamant on not taking part in the talks if the government does not agree to discuss sovereignty.

The ULFA leadership will make the formal announcement on Saturday here after they submit their decision, along with “relevant documents”, to the Centre’s peace interlocutor, P C Haldar.

A key member of the outfit, who did not want to be named, said the central executive council took the decision on January 24. “The decision was then referred to the hurriedly-called general council meeting, which took place at three undisclosed locations in Nalbari on January 26,” he said.

“Our main decision was to hold talks with the government without any pre-condition. There was no reference to sovereignty. But we have decided to discuss all issues with the government,” the senior ULFA leader said.

He added that the general council’s decision would be sent to the two living abstaintees of the central executive council, Paresh Baruah and Jibon Moran. “With the decision to take part in the talks taken, there are some formalities to be completed. But these are mainly paper work. We have to submit some documents and the leadership is working on it,” the rebel leader said. All other members of the general council have left Nalbari for the respective places.

The Sanmilita Jaitya Abhibartan, a group of citizens that brokered the peace initiative between ULFA and the Centre, has prepared the draft charter of demands for the outfit. The charter advocates for autonomy in place of sovereignty.

*Reported by Prabin Kalita

(Courtesy: TNN)

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