By- Correspondent | Date- August 6, 2011
The pro-talk faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), as expected, submitted their charter of demands to the Union Government of India in New Delhi. The demand charter was also made public during a press meet held by the ULFA delegation, after it is handed over to the Home Minister P. Chidambaram and other delegates of the Home Ministry, in presence of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. The outfit also sought a definite timeframe of one and a half years for a permanent solution to the more than three decade old insurgency in Assam.
The demand for rights
It was being claimed that the demand charter by the pro-talk faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) would not contain the demand for sovereignty of Assam. Yes, the demand for Independent Asom is not there, but some of the demands regarding political, economic and cultural rights make the rights demanded no less than those of a sovereign nation.
A quick list of the demands made in ULFA demands charter to the Union Government of India is:
- A fresh look on the issue of sovereignty (for which ULFA came into existence), so as to ensure that the people of Assam can assert their indisputable rights to control their own lands and resources.
- High level discussion on grounds and root causes for ULFA struggle and their genuineness
- Status report on around missing ULFA leaders and cadres (reported to be around 50), including those have been missing since 2005 (Mentionable that Times of Assam have reported earlier that some of these leaders might be still under secret captivity of Bhutan)
- Protection and conservation of the ethnic people and right on all resources, with complete constitutional and political rights.
- Finance and Economy – Complete rights on all economic resources, including oil, prevention of any further exploitation and compensation to be given to Assam for all exploitations on its economic resources till date.
- Illegal Migration – All necessary preventive and corrective actions including complete sealing of the international border, prevention of migration taking place through river ways and setting up of a task force by the locals and indigenous communities to secure this.
- Solution to all ethnic and tribal issues and problems including solution to border dispute and land acquisition issues through constitutional amendments.
- Changes and upgradation in education and health sectors for complete prosperity and protection.
- Focus on development of agriculture and rural development schemes
- Complete rights of the indigenous on land and natural resources and facilitate complete flood control system.
- Industrial development – solution to issues on transportation and communication, facilitate more entrepreneurship, improvement of skill set for workers, facilitation of capital for industrialization.
- Complete protection and development of all types of local culture and folklore of Assam
- To foster better bilateral relations with neighboring countries for boosting trade and economy.
On General Secretary Anup Chetia and Commander-in-Chief Paresh Baruah
On being asked about ULFA General Secretary Anup Chetia, who has been in special custody of Bangladesh Government since 1997, spokesman and foreign secretary Sashadhar Choudhury confirmed that that the Government of India has facilitated for Chetia to be back in the country soon, hopefully in just 2-3 weeks’ time. He also confirmed that they (ULFA leadership) have not been able to discuss anything with Chetia on the lateral talks or on the demands.
Mentionable that Chetia has been known to be still working for the hardliner faction of the outfit. Sources have revealed to Times of Assam that the newly appointed Assistant Foreign Secretary of ULFA hardliner faction Dr Pranmay Asom has been under guidance of Anup Chetia. It is expected that Chetia joining the lateral talk process would boost the peace and conflict transformation process underway in Assam.
On the other hand, Mr. Choudhury was seen to be soft on their elusive Commander-in-Chief Paresh Baruah who is still opposed to the notion of talks with the Government of India. Mr. Choudhury stated that Baruah himself is yet to make any comment about the peace process and that they hope that one day he will join in the talks.
The seven member delegation of ULFA led by Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa had left for Delhi on Thursday for the talks. The seven member ULFA delegation comprised of Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, Vice president Pradip Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Barua, foreign secretary Sashadhar Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka and publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi stated after the one and half hour meeting that he is confident that the two parties would be able to bring a permanent solution to the insurgency problem with both sides flexible on their approach, which is a good sign.
Mr. Chidambaram is known to have told the ULFA leaders that the concerns expressed by them are of concern to the State and Union government and assured them that due steps would be undertaken to solve the problems and the demands, even if needs changes to the law or constitution.
The next round of talks is expected to be held after August 15 at the Home Minister level.