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Sovereignty demand threatens chances of ULFA talks

August 02, 2006 11:12 IST

The peace initiative to facilitate direct talks with the banned United Liberation Front of Asom and the government of India is apparently heading nowhere at this point of time with the militant group insisting on its demand for sovereignty at the top of the agenda for discussion, much to the discomfort of the latter.

A source in the security force termed ULFA's insistence on having discussion on sovereignty demand a ploy to avoid direct talks with the government as the militant group was fully aware that it would be impossible for India to discuss the sovereignty issue with a banned organisation.

All the frontline political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties have been maintaining that the sovereignty of the country is not an issue for discussion with anyone.

The BJP's stand has been the sternest among all parties vis-à-vis the ULFA. BJP president Rajnath Singh recently stated in Guwahati that there should not be any dialogue with the banned organisation till it shuns violence.

There hasn't been any precedence for the government to discuss sovereignty with any militant organisation so far.

Although the government had talked out a solution to the Mizo rebellion in 1980s through dialogue with the Mizo National Front, then a banned organisation, the sovereignty issue never came up for discussion although a separate homeland for Mizos was the primary demand of the MNF.

The same is the case with the Naga rebel organization National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) that is engaged in a peace process with the government since 1997. The NSCN-IM is apparently not insisting on its demand for Naga sovereignty for the greater interest of the peace process.

In such a situation ULFA's insistence on discussion for its demand for sovereignty has raised questions about the militant group's sincerity to sit for direct dialogue with the government to find a solution.

Meanwhile, the army engaged in counter-insurgency operation in Assam have intensified operations against ULFA in the state much to the chagrin of the outfit's frontal organisations including the People's Consultative Group and People's Committee for Peace Initiative in Assam.

The PCG, which was constituted by ULFA to prepare ground for direct talks with the government, has threatened to pull out of the peace process. The PCPIA, on the other hand, has launched a fortnight-long movement to mount pressure on the government to hold direct talks with the ULFA without further delay.

At least five ULFA militants were killed by the army in Assam during the last 48 hours. One of the killed militants was Mridul Hazarika alias Bhaskar Baruah who was a prime accused in murder of NGO official Sanjoy Ghose in Majuli, the world's biggest river island in the bosom of the mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam.

Social worker Sanjoy Ghose, the secretary of AVARD-NE was kidnapped and subsequently killed by a group of ULFA militants led by Mridul Hazarika in Majuli on July 4, 1997.

K Anurag in Guwahati