By– Hrishikesh Mahanta
As Assam eagerly waits for some decisive conclusion of the Government of India and ULFA talks to bring results to decades long Indo-Assam conflict, Times of Assam brings to you an exclusive series on the run to the solutions if it were good, bad or debatable.
No talks over the issue of Sovereignty
The very first question that has pinched everyone is the fact that the pro-talk section of the United Liberation Front of Assam has declared that they will not ask or discuss about sovereignty of Assam, a demand which took lives of over 12,000 Assamese youth who had chased the dream of a sovereign Assam. The ground situation for the lateral talks between the ULFA and the Government of India laid down by the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA), a collective civil effort by over hundred different civil, students, non-political and ethnic organizations and led by top intellectuals of the state allowed talks to be held without any pre-condition by either parties. Yet, the ULFA leadership failed to take the advantage and decided not to talk about the very core topic for which it took endless lives and fought against Indian State Machine for three decades.
Leaving opportunity to gain support from other states for an Indian Federation(like USA)
In the talks, ULFA could have very well used the opportunity to seek or talk about Assam as a federation of India, formulating a future road map of India as an amalgamation of different federal states, just like the United States of America. This would have attracted huge response and support from all states of India, complaining of bias and seeking more self-autonomy and right for development. Instead the ULFA leadership is found to be asking only for a special statehood, something similar to Jammu and Kashmir.
The demand charter prepared by the people
The Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA) took great pains with the help of all section of the society, from scientists to social workers, law makers to agriculturist to prepare a 400 odd page Demand charter of Assam for the ULFA leadership to use it as a basis to talk with the Government of India. This step by the civil society and intellectuals is welcome and appreciated. But it also raises a question as to what exactly were ULFA fighting for in the last thirty years then. If today the people have to set the demands for ULFA, what were they fighting for? Did they have no goal, no plan or no vision apart from their constitution to enact their mission for Assam? Was it always a struggle of Money and Gun as concerned by different section of the people. In last three decades, ULFA’s struggle was anyways limited mostly to extorting money, buying arms (which Bangladesh and Bhutan took away respectively), training its cadres and sending political messages in its press releases.
Right from the killing of Girish Goswami, Manager of United Commercial (UCO) Bank and brother of Jayashree Goswami Mahanta, wife of then Chief Minister Prafulla Mahanta way back on May 10th, 1985 ULFA has done big mistakes continuously, every year. Whether it’s the killing of Sanjay Ghosh which led them loose the aide of the United Nations or their ten truckload of arms caught by Bangladesh, there have been enough instances which were potential learning’s for the outfit, politically, financially or militarily. Yet, there is still doubt and uncertainty if the ULFA leadership has learnt from its mistakes and only time will prove so. The Lateral talks with the Indian Government are going to be the true test of character of the ULFA leadership.
To be continued…