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ULFA pro-talk leader welcomes possibility of signing peace agreement

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Guwahati: Welcoming the possibility of signing a peace agreement between the government and the ULFA (pro-talk), its leader Anup Chetia on Thursday said the pact can be inked if the Centre accepts its demands like land rights for the indigenous Assamese people.

Chetia, who is the general secretary of the ULFA, said that they recently received a draft of the agreement but the matter was yet to be discussed in various fora of the organisation.

His statement came hours after Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced in New Delhi that there was a possibility of signing a peace agreement with the group in May.

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“The chief minister has taken an initiative for an agreement with the pro-talk ULFA and we welcome it But the entire matter lies in the hands of the Central government.

“If the centre accepts our various demands, including the constitutional, political and land rights of the indigenous Assamese population, then the agreement can be signed,” Chetia told reporters.

A draft of the agreement has been sent to the organisation just before the Rongali Bihu festival earlier this month.

“The matter has been discussed in the central committee. But the working committee and the general council will discuss it before a final decision on the draft can be taken,” Chetia, a founding member of the outfit, said.

Asked about the possibility of peace talks with the ULFA (Independent), led by hardliner Paresh Barua, he said that he will welcome it as it will lead to lasting peace in Assam.

The chief minister, after taking oath on May 10, had appealed to the ULFA(I) to come forward for peace talks and resolve the decades-old insurgency problem in the state. However, not much progress has been made in this direction.

On several occasions, Sarma has mentioned that the ULFA(I) talks about ‘sovereignty’ which he, as the chief minister, cannot constitutionally negotiate.

Chetia urged Sarma to take the right steps in this direction as he is also an Assamese and the “problems that we are talking about is not of the ULFA alone but of the indigenous people of Assam”.

Asked about reports that youths are joining the ULFA(I), the pro-talk leader said as long as there is an organisation, people will join it but many soon get disenchanted and return home.

“There has been a change in Assam’s environment and it is no longer conducive for an armed struggle,” he added.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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