A tripartite meeting, involving representatives of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Assam government and the Centre was held in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the charter of demands submitted by ULFA in August.
The meeting, described as preliminary in nature, with the top leadership of the banned outfit discussed various aspects of its “charter of demands’’, which sought amendment in the Constitution to find a lasting solution to the three-decade-old insurgency problem in Assam.
Led by its 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa, the ULFA leaders held a 90-minute closed door meeting with Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh and other officials and held ‘point-by-point’ discussion on their demands. They resolved to carry forward the peace dialogue process to find an ‘amicable solution.’
“It was a very positive meeting. We have had a point-by-point discussion on our charter of demands. We hope that the positive attitude of the Central government will continue and would help in finding an amicable solution to our demands,’’ Mr. Rajkhowa told journalists after the meeting.
Asked if the ULFA cadres would surrender their arms as demanded by the government, its 'foreign secretary' Sashadhar Choudhury reiterated his oft-repeated stand by saying that they did not attend the peace talks with arms. “We are also not going to tell you where our cadres have kept the arms,’’ he quipped.
On the government's proposal to keep the cadres in designated camps called 'nabanirman kendras', Mr. Choudhury said the camps were not ready yet. According to an estimate of the government, ULFA has around 600 cadres.
The meeting discussed various aspects of the group's 'charter of demands', which includes finding ways to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam.
Government’s representative for peace talks P.C. Haldar, Secretary, Internal Security, U.K. Bansal, Joint Secretary (North East) Shambhu Singh, Additional DGP, Assam, K. Sharma, and State Home Commissioner Jishnu Barua were also present.
After the preliminary discussion on the demands of ULFA, the government representative has been requested to hold meetings with the Chief Secretary, Assam and ULFA leaders on their demands regularly.
Union Home Secretary R. K. Singh stated that the steps taken by the ULFA leaders for restoration of peace and normalcy in the area would yield speedier socio-economic development for the people of Assam. Mr. Singh would review the status of talks with ULFA periodically.