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Ulfa faction to sign accord with Assam, govt today | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: A tripartite memorandum of settlement will be signed by the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, the Centre and Assam government here on Friday in the presence of home minister Amit Shah, marking yet another milestone in sustained efforts of the Modi government to establish peace and stability in the northeast.
TOI had reported on Thursday that an accord was in the works, ending a decades-long stalemate.
The Rajkhowa faction, with a current strength of 553 leaders and cadres, had joined peace talks with the government on September 3, 2011, after signing an agreement for suspension of operations with the Centre and Assam government. Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, however, declined to be part of the negotiations and broke away from the Rajkhowa-led faction in 2012.
Baruah is currently said to be based somewhere near the China-Myanmar border and, according to a senior official of the security establishment, has less than 100 cadres in camps located in Myanmar. “All other Ulfa cadres are with Rajkhowa and are in Assam for the last few years,” the officer told TOI. Baruah, who according to a source is now driven by the Chinese establishment, has no active cadres in Assam.
Rajkhowa, Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia and other senior leaders have been in the national capital for the past few days, holding a final round of negotiations with the interlocutors to iron out the rough edges in the draft of the proposed peace accord.
“Both sides have worked on a give-and-take principle to arrive at an improvised version of the draft agreement given to us in April this year by the Centre,” Chetia had told TOI on Wednesday.
Assam DGP G P Singh said the accord “is a step in the right direction and we hope that those who are still in the jungles will come forward and be a part of the development journey of Assam”.
Though ‘sovereign Assam’ has been Ulfa’s central demand since 1979, the tripartite agreement to be signed with the Rajkhowa faction is strictly as per the Constitution. As part of the settlement, leaders and cadres of Ulfa are expected to join the mainstream and give up arms and all forms of violence. The Centre and Assam government will reciprocate by addressing Ulfa’s political, economic and social concerns and safeguarding the interests of indigenous communities of the state.
The home ministry, as part of the Modi regime’s “Act East” policy, has been working on a three-pronged strategy in the northeast region — cultural enrichment, dealing with conflict to establish peace and stability and accelerating development. Since 2014, the Centre has signed a series of peace accords including for settlement of the border disputes between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in April 2023 and between Assam and Meghalaya in March 2022; an accord with Brus in 2020 for their permanent settlement in Tripura; Bodo accord of 2020, Karbi agreement of 2021; and a peace pact with 8 tribal groups of Assam in September 2022.
The peace accords; suspension of operations pacts with several rebel outfits; and the partial lifting of AFSPA in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and its complete removal from Tripura and Meghalaya, has led to a decline of 73% in incidents of insurgency, 71% in security forces fatalities and 86% in civilian deaths in the region between 2014 and 2023. As many as 8,900 extremists have surrendered since 2014.
To push development in the northeast, the Modi government has raised the budget of the ministry of development of northeast region (DoNER) to nearly Rs 5,900 crore in 2023-24 from Rs 2,333 crore in 2014-15. The Vibrant Village Program (VVP) will focus on development and infrastructure upgrade in 455 villages of Arunachal Pradesh.


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