The banned United Liberation Front of Asom - Independent (ULFA-I) outfit on August 14 extended the unilateral ceasefire, announced in May this year, for another three months as the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Assam is yet to improve.
This statement comes after the ULFA-I announced that for the first time in three decades, it will not engage in any "armed protest" or call for bandh on this Independence Day, which was the norm earlier, due to several issues including the pandemic, border conflicts in South Asia, floods, erosion and unemployment.
ULFA-I commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, in a mailed statement, said that the outfit had announced the ceasefire on May 15 and have decided to refrain from any operation during this three-month period as people were facing difficulties due to the pandemic.
''The COVID-19 situation is yet to stabilise and as our social responsibility, we have extended the ceasefire for another three months and no operations will be conducted during this period,'' he said.
Responding to the development, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "This is a very encouraging and positive announcement. The ULFA-I has also not called for any bandh on Independence Day either, which was the norm earlier. These measures are commendable. I hope that the ceasefire becomes permanent and the outfit under the leadership of Paresh Barua returns to the mainstream." Since assuming office on May 10, the chief minister had urged the outfit to come forward on the negotiating table.
The outfit, however, has urged people to protest the Independence day "democratically" by unfurling the ULFA-I flag, wearing black badges and waving black flags with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.