Assam CM Welcomes ULFA-I’s Move To Not Call Bandh On R-Day

Guwahati: Considering the deteriorating Covid-19 situation, the outlawed ULFA (Independent) has refrained from giving a shutdown and boycott call to the Republic Day celebrations for the first time in over 20 years, leading to the welcoming the militant outfit’s gesture by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Welcoming the Paresh Barua-led United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent’s decision to refrain from calling strike and boycott to the Republic Day celebrations, the Chief Minister on Sunday expressed his confidence saying that such a move would expedite a formal discussion between the outfit and the government in future.

“ULFA-I chief Paresh Barua’s decision is a welcoming step. Such confidence-building measures would facilitate a formal discussion between the government and the outfit in the future,” Sarma told the media on Sunday.

The ULFA-I in a statement on Saturday night announced that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation, it refrained from calling a bandh or boycott of this year’s Republic Day celebrations.

The militant outfit in a three-page statement in Assamese language criticised the government for continuing to enforce the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in different northeastern states and killing 14 people in Nagaland by the security forces on December 4 and 5 last year.

The Assam Chief Minister had earlier this month appealed to the ULFA-I to not call for bandh on Republic Day and said that he has requested the Central government to expedite the peace parleys with the outfit.

Sarma, after assuming office of the Chief Minister on May 10 last year, had urged Paresh Barua to come forward for peace talks and shun the 42-year-old insurgency.

The ULFA-I had responded favourably and declared a unilateral ceasefire in May last year and extended it thrice so far.

The Assam Chief Minister had earlier said that he has been given full responsibility (by Union Home Minister Amit Shah) to start the preliminary talks with the ULFA-I. Back channel talks between the Assam government and ULFA-I are on.