Himanta Biswa Sarma
Sarma, who is also the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), appealed to the militant outfits in Manipur to come forward for talks.
Guwahati: A day after the Bodo peace accord was signed, Assam finance minister Himanata Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said the Narendra Modi government was willing to hold talks with the anti-talk faction of Ulfa-I led by Paresh Baruah if they are keen to hold talks for a permanent peace in the Northeast.
Expressing his happiness over an inclusive Bodo peace accord that will ensure the territorial integrity of Assam, Mr Sarma extended an olive branch to the anti-talk group of Ulfa (Independent), while making an appealing to its leader Paresh Baruah to come to the negotiating table for the sake of “permanent peace in the region”.
Mr Sarma said that Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday had also announced that if the Ulfa(I) faction is ready for negotiations, New Delhi was more than willing to hold talks with them.
“This is for the first time that this government is making a public appeal to Ulfa (I) for dialogue. If they are willing for negotiations, the Centre will reciprocate with equal strength and willingness for ushering in permanent peace in Assam and the Northeast,” he said. Referring to the success of the Bodo pact, Mr Sarma said that a “historic accord” was signed on Monday with all the factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in the presence of all stakeholders.
“In this context, I would like to request Paresh Baruah and his anti-talk faction to consider engaging in a productive dialogue. The Centre and state government want peace in the region,” he said.
Mr Sarma, asking the top insurgent leader to avail of the opportunity by responding to the peace initiative of New Delhi, said: “The pro-talk faction of Ulfa, led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, is already engaging in a dialogue with the Centre and this will continue, but for permanent peace to prevail, it is necessary that all the factions come to the negotiating table.”
Mr Sarma, who is also the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), appealed to the militant outfits in Manipur to come forward for talks. “Some militant activities have been reported only in Assam and Manipur. So we are requesting them (insurgents) to join the mainstream and hold discussions with the Centre for durable peace,” Mr Sarma said.
“Other states of the Northeast, like Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, have become peaceful. If the militant outfits in Manipur and Assam come forward for talks, it will help establishing a lasting peace in the region,” he said.
The minister said the Assam government had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah to visit Kokrajhar on February 7 to celebrate the signing of historic Bodo Accord 2020. Saying that announcements on constitutional safeguards for Assam’s indigenous people will be made during the forthcoming Rongali Bihu celebrations, Mr Sarma said the Centre has been pursuing the Clause 6 Committee and exploring the possibilities in this regard.
Meanwhile, Bodo leaders, who arrived here on Tuesday after signing the historic Bodo accord in New Delhi, were accorded a grand felicitation by civil society in Chirang district on Tuesday, where All Bodo Students’ Union president Pramod Boro and all the signatories of the Bodo accord were present.