Just hours after taking oath as the next Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma wasted no time as he immediately swung into action as he attempts to solve the state’s most pressing issue: militancy. Sarma in his maiden press briefing urged Paresh Baruah, the self-styled “commander-in-chief” of the insurgent group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to abjure violence and come for peace talks.
Indicating his desire to hold peace talks with the insurgent group, the newly crowned Assam Chief Minister said, “A dialogue with the ULFA is a two-way traffic. Paresh Baruah has to come forward. Similarly, we have to go to him. If both sides have the will, communication won’t be difficult.”
He added, “A dialogue with the ULFA is a two-way traffic. Paresh Baruah has to come forward. Similarly, we have to go to him. If both sides have the will, communication won’t be difficult.”
Himanta Biswa Sarma vowed that his government would bring all insurgent groups to the mainstream within the next five years as he appealed to Baruah and other ULFA members to join the peace process.
ULFA was established in 1979 with the aim of creating a sovereign Assam and over the years went on to become the biggest militant outfit in the state. The group which believes in establishing an independent Assam for the state’s indigenous people through armed conflict was banned by the Indian government in 1990 citing terrorist threat.
While the organisation attempted to clearly bifurcate its ‘political’ and ‘military’ wings with a faction led by former ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa joining the peace process in 2011, Baruah has been steadfastly against participating in any peace talks and has rebuffed all offers to come on the table till date.
Hindustan Times based on experts reports that Baruah is believed to be residing in China’s Yunnan province with the terrorist often travelling to various countries in Southeast Asia.
Sarma will have to navigate choppy waters if he were to make ULFA insurgents give up arms as Baruah in an interview last year vowed that he would participate in the talks with the Centre only if sovereignty of Assam would be the main agenda of the talks which continues to be ULFA’s ‘one-point agenda’ till date.