Ulfa (I) Chief Paresh Baruah's Conditions for Talks: Sovereignty in Focus

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Sunday, December 31, 2023
Ulfa (I) Chief Paresh Baruah's Conditions for Talks: Sovereignty in Focus
Ulfa (I) Chief Paresh Baruah Open to Talks, Stresses on Sovereignty Issue
Guwahati, 31 December, 23: In a significant development, Ulfa (Independent) chief Paresh Baruah expressed his willingness to engage in peace talks, contingent upon Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressing the issue of sovereignty. Baruah's statement follows the signing of a memorandum of settlement between the Centre, Assam government, and Ulfa in New Delhi.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, the 66-year-old guerrilla leader clarified that Ulfa (I) is not averse to dialogue but insists on an assurance that the matter of sovereignty, deemed as Assam's historical political right, will be a focal point in discussions.

"We have made it clear to the Assam CM that we cannot participate in discussions without the assurance that sovereignty will be on the table. The CM needs support and guidance from Assam's intellectuals to move forward," stated Baruah.

He underscored that discussing sovereignty does not violate the Indian Constitution, emphasizing the democratic principle of addressing all issues. Baruah stated, "The Indian Constitution does not prohibit discussions on sovereignty. It will not undermine the sanctity of the Constitution but enhance it. True democracy allows discussions on every issue."

Chief Minister Sarma, commenting on the Ulfa deal, expressed optimism about involving Ulfa (I) in the peace process. "Now we can make efforts to bring Paresh Baruah to the discussion table," Sarma stated, acknowledging the complexities of dealing with both factions simultaneously.

Baruah acknowledged Sarma's role, referring to him as a catalyst. Despite reservations about the peace deal, Baruah extended good wishes to Ulfa cadres, emphasizing their newfound freedom. He stated, "We do not want dialogue for a financial package; assurance on sovereignty is our prerequisite."

While critical of the peace deal's lack of specificity and detailed description, Baruah clarified that he wasn't surprised or disappointed, having anticipated this outcome 13 years ago. He characterized the accord as "more ruminative" and questioned the extended timeline for finalizing a pact with agreed-upon terms in the last six months. The Ulfa (I) leader's openness to dialogue adds a complex dimension to the peace process, requiring nuanced engagement and diplomatic efforts.