The appointment of Himanta Biswa Sarma to the post of Chief Minister was a crucial decision by BJP from the angle of solving the insurgency problem in the region. Sarma himself had a brief history with separatist groups but joined mainstream politics later and today he occupies the most powerful chair in the state. Thus, he is an example for other separatist leaders throughout the Northeast to join the mainstream, and this is probably one of the important reasons behind his appointment as Chief Minister.
Prime Minister Modi expects Himanta Biswa Sarma to bring all the separatist leaders to mainstream and end the insurgency in the Northeast. And Sarma started working on this right from the day he took the oath. He gave a call to separatist groups to drop the arms and come for talks.
In just five days after the clarion call, the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) or ULFA(I), an armed wing of the separatist groups led by Paresh Baruah, declared a unilateral ceasefire for the next three months, and the talks would probably start very soon.
The ULFA-I Commander-in-Chief, in a statement made available to IANS by his spokesperson Rumel Asom, said, “With utmost sincerity, we would like to inform the indigenous people of Assam that in view of the Coronavirus-induced situation, the ULFA (I) has decided to suspend all its military operations for the next three months with effect from today.”
Two days ago, 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.”
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.
Given his decades long experience in the politics of the Northeast and his massive popularity throughout the region, Sarma is the best man to solve the problem of insurgency. If Sarma is able to convince Barua, who in an interview last year vowed that he would participate in the talks with the Centre only if the sovereignty of Assam would be the main agenda of the talks, to give up arms for three months within two days after becoming CM, he can be trusted with putting an end to insurgency in the Northeast.
The appointment of Himanta as CM would bring peace and prosperity to the Northeast and fully integrate it with the rest of the country. Moreover, the fact that a person from the Northeast is so powerful in the ruling party at the centre would itself give hope to the people and end alienation.