Pro-talk faction of ULFA formally disbanded; end of a 44-year struggle

The decision to disband the organisation was taken at a meeting held in Assam

PTI12_31_2023_000010B Arabinda Rajkhowa

The pro-talk faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), formed 44 years ago with the motto 'Independent Assam', formally disbanded on Tuesday, following an agreement inked with the centre in December. 

As per the pact signed on December 26, ULFA shall abjure the path of violence, give up all arms and ammunition and disband the organisation within one month. The pro-talk faction, led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, signed the pact after 12 years of negotiations with the Indian government. However, the group’s hard-line faction, led by Paresh Baruah, is not part of the agreement. Baruah is believed to be hiding somewhere along the China-Myanmar border.

The decision to disband the organisation was taken at a meeting of the organisation held in Assam's Darrang district on Tuesday, the outfit's General Secretary Anup Chetia told PTI. The camp at Mangaldoi also saw the presence of prominent leaders such as Arabinda Rajkhowa, Anup Chetia, Raju Baruah, Pranati Phukan, Sashadhar Choudhury, Pradeep Gogoi, Pranjit Saikia.

With the move, the ULFA will cease to be a political entity, turning into a socio-cultural organisation named 'Asom Jatiya Bikash Mancha' aimed at protecting the cultural and linguistic identity of the society. It was also decided at the meeting to form a seven-member monitoring committee, headed by Chetia, to ensure the implementation of the various clauses of the tripartite agreement.

"The members will also soon meet Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to inform him about the outfit being disbanded and also to take forward the implementation of the agreement," Chetia told reporters. 

The meeting held at Darrang also appealed to the state government to allot the lands of the existing designated camps to the ex-cadres so that they could be engaged in the multi-cropping agriculture farm. It has also been decided to hand over the arms and ammunition from the respective designated camps as per the laid-down procedure. This will happen at a formal ceremony later this month.

Other means to rehabilitate the cadres and to involve them in productive economic activity were also discussed at the meeting.

The outfit will also have to vacate all the nine designated camps where ULFA cadres and their families were staying after coming for talks in 2011.

The ULFA was formed on April 7, 1979, in Sivasagar by a group of 20 youths from Upper Assam districts to establish a sovereign Assam through an armed struggle. The outfit had split in 2011 with the top leadership, including Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, returning to Assam from a neighbouring country and agreed to talk without the sovereignty clause and submitted a 12-point charter of demands to the central government.

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