Assam: Ulfa proposes cadre wall to check influx


GUWAHATI, May 23, 2018: Ulfa (pro-talks) has proposed that the Centre raise an unarmed battalion of security forces with its cadres to form a second line of defence in Assam along the India-Bangladesh border.

During a meeting with a central team in New Delhi on Monday, the group also pushed for withdrawal of cases registered against its cadres and sought Delhi's help to trace its 26 members who had gone missing in Bhutan during Operation All Clear in 2003.

Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi on Tuesday that the peace talks that began in 2010 were almost complete, barring decisions on a couple of issues like ensuring land rights to Assam's indigenous people and Scheduled Tribe status to six more ethnic communities.

"There are frequent complaints that the BSF allows illegal migrants from Bangladesh to enter Assam through the border in lieu of money. We have requested the Centre to involve indigenous people of the state to guard our border. We proposed that an unarmed battalion can be raised with our members as a second line of defence. This will help involve local youths and rehabilitate our cadres after signing of our agreement with the Centre," he said. There are nearly 2,000 Ulfa (pro-talks) cadres.

Chetia said they also sought the Centre's help to enable them to visit Bhutan to trace the whereabouts of their missing members.

An eight-member Ulfa team, including Chetia and chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, held talks with the central team, comprising interlocutor A.B. Mathur, home ministry joint secretary (Northeast), Satyendra Garg and Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain, among others.

The group had submitted a charter of demands to the Centre in 2011, which included amendment to the Constitution to find ways to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people and other economic issues.

"Further talks are required on our demand to ensure land rights. But we are hopeful that the agreement will be signed before next year's Lok Sabha elections. But that will depend on the Centre's approach to our demand for land rights," said Chetia, who was extradited to Assam from Bangladesh in November 2015 and was subsequently released from jail on bail for the peace talks.

Sources said the Centre wants to sign the agreement soon to isolate Paresh Barua-led Ulfa (Independent). Barua is against peace talks without its core demand for "sovereign Assam".

Ulfa peaceniks, however, said they have no problem if Barua joins the peace process.

Source: The Telegraph

Featured image: The Telegraph