By Rupesh Dutta
New Delhi, May 19:
As the BJP created history in Assam and is set to form its maiden government in the northeast, the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has said the new government should resolve the state’s “identity crisis on a priority basis”.
The faction, which is in peace negotiations with the central government since 2010, has also sought that the new government should complete the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which it says is “the only feasible solution to the illegal migrants issue, which has led to much bloodshed in the state”.
“Among the major expectations are the faster update of the NRC, which makes things clear about who are the illegal migrants in the state. Another expectation is that the government should certainly help in sealing an accord between the ULFA and the Indian government,” Sashadhar Chaudhury, a senior cadre of the ULFA faction that favours talks with the govenrment, told IANS.
Referring to the 15 years of Tarun Gogoi-led Congress rule in the state, Chaudhury, who was formerly part of the underground movement, said: “People wanted change and to get rid of the Bangladeshi-based politics in Assam, which the new government should take care of.”
The first phase of the ambitious NRC updating process was completed some years ago, and the second one has begun. The process involves upgrading the register of 1951 by enlisting names of “genuine” Indian citizens, one of the key decisions of the tripartite talk among the Centre, the Assam government and All Assam Students Union (AASU) during the signing of Assam Accord in 1985.
“People want a government of our own people, and once the NRC comes, it will segregate the Bangladeshis from Assam,” Chaudhury told IANS.
During its election campaign, the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, had reiterated that if the party came to power it would seal the India-Bangladesh border and tackle the issue of illegal immigrants.
Arabinda Rajkhowa, former chairman of ULFA and now the main leader of the pro-talks faction, told IANS: “Assam faces an identity crisis. The new government has to understand that they have been given the mandate to resolve the problem in the state that has prevailed for some time now.”
“In comparison to the Gogoi regime, the new government will have to work more for the existing social problems of Assam. They have to understand that the only reason they have got the mandate is because people have faith in them, and the new government has to deliver,” Rajkhowa told IANS over phone from Assam.
Asked if the ULFA group would try to invite Paresh Baruah for the peace negotiations through the new government, he said: “We can’t say anything about it. The only benefit we will get through the new government is that unlike earlier, it will be smooth for us to negotiates as the BJP is both in the state and the Centre.”
Raju Baruah, former deputy commander-in-chief of the underground ULFA and now part of the group’s pro-talks faction, said that the negotiations are likely to sail smoothly.
“The hurdles we were facing earlier will vanish, and an accord between the ULFA and government will soon be a reality,” Baruah told IANS.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, in alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front(BPF), has gained majority in the Assam assembly polls. (IANS)