Hope and optimism were on a definite high on the first day of Govt-United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) talks on Monday. Noting 'significant and tangible progress', the government has said a resolution of issues look a 'bright possibility' in less than a year.
"The understanding of the issues and the appreciation of the difficulties of what is achievable and what is not…a very good beginning has been made. A resolution looks possible very soon and definitely in less than a year," Shambu Singh, joint secretary (North East), who participated in the talks along with Union Home Secretary RK Singh, told HT.
Singh's statement is significant in the backdrop of the lingering talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) that has been ongoing for the last 14 years.
Declining to pinpoint the exact areas where the 'tangible progress' has been made, Home Secretary RK Singh said: "it won't be beneficial to the process if I talk about it now."
ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa also expressed happiness. "We are very happy with the way the government is looking at the issue. We only hope that the talks translate into action."
"If this is the way the talks progress, a resolution of issues appear a distinct possibility in less than a year."
Noting that Monday's talks focused on the "most serious and sensitive" issues, Rajkhowa emphasized that the process could veritably address the loss of national identity of the Assamese people which has been a result of the colonial character of the prevailing administrative apparatus.
Talks with the ULFA has started after a hiatus of six months. Seven top ULFA leaders, including Rajkhowa, participated in this round of talks.
The Paresh Barua-led ULFA faction continue to hold out in camps along the jungled Myanmar-China border, steadfast in its opposition to the ongoing talks.
ULFA was formed 33 years ago at the historic Ronghor to start an armed rebellion to fight for Assam's independence. Ever since, the conflict has claimed more than 12,000 people.