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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Broad terms of govt-ULFA agreement being set

Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 27, 2013
First Published: 12:03 IST(27/6/2013) | Last Updated: 12:05 IST(27/6/2013)

Consequent to rapid and positive development in negotiations, the broad terms of agreement in the talks between the government and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) are being set in form of a 'working draft' that is in the process of being finalised.

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Referring to the in-principle agreement on 12 agenda points, Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast), home ministry, said: "We have reached a point almost close to finalising a working draft. There are certain things which are still under discussion. But we hope the working draft to be ready very soon."

The common agreement points relate to three key issues: safeguarding the identity of the people of Assam, land protection, and resolution of the problem of reported illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

On Monday, HT had reported that in a breakthrough of sorts, the contours of a "doable, workable" framework are finally emerging from the govt-ULFA talks.

Wednesday's round of talks was the sixth in the series that started more than two years back after several top leaders including Arabinda Rajkhowa were arrested by Bangladesh security forces and later handed over to India.

Rajkhowa led a 26-member ULFA delegation for the talks, which is the largest so far.

According to authoritive sources, the effort to resolve the issue and ink it before the country's parliamentary polls in 2014 is strong. Both PM Manmohan Singh and CM Tarun Gogoi are looked upon as important supporters of a negotiated political settlement.

There is also a feeling that with dissidents within the Congress raising the banner of revolt against CM Tarun Gogoi, the situational dynamics may not be very conducive to a resolution if Gogoi gets replaced.

Government sources also announced that Anup Chetia, a top ULFA leader who was jailed in Bangladesh, will be repatriated to India next month itself. Chetia is expected to support the talks process although whether he directly participates in the talks or not is another issue as the talks are very close to a negotiated settlement.

Meanwhile, the Paresh-Barua faction of the ULFA has steadfastedly refused to be drawn into the ongoing negotiation as the key demand of sovereignty for Assam is not being deliberated upon. Barua crisscrosses across camps located close to the Myanmar-China border with hundreds of his heavily-armed fighters.


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