Baruah: Ulfa (I) is ready for talks if sovereignty discussed | India News

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GUWAHATI: Ulfa (Independent) chief Paresh Baruah conveyed Saturday his openness to peace talks, saying he is waiting for Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma’s word on convincing the Centre to discuss the sovereignty issue during negotiations. This comes a day after the Centre and Assam government signed a memorandum of settlement with Ulfa in New Delhi.
The 66-year-old guerrilla leader, believed to be shuttling between Myanmar and China, called STOI from an undisclosed location and reiterated that Ulfa (I) was not against dialogue, but wanted an assurance that the issue of sovereignty, which he said is Assam’s historical political right, will be discussed.
“We have told the Assam CM clearly that we cannot go to the discussion table without the assurance that sovereignty will be discussed. The only thing the CM probably needs is the support and right guidance from Assam’s intellectuals,” Baruah said.
He said discussions on sovereignty wouldn’t violate the Indian Constitution, highlighting the importance of addressing all issues in a democracy. “The Indian Constitution does not bar discussions on sovereignty. Discussion on sovereignty will not destroy the sanctity of the Indian Constitution. Rather, it will add more shine to the Constitution. True democracy will be reflected if the Constitution allows discussion on every issue. One nation, one rule alone will not serve the purpose unless you discuss all issues,” he said.
CM Sarma mentioned Friday that the deal with Ulfa would facilitate efforts to involve Ulfa (I) in the peace process. “There were suggestions in the state that talks cannot be held with both factions together and so now we can make our efforts to get Paresh Baruah to the discussion table,” the CM had said.
Baruah acknowledged the possibility and expressed hope in Sarma’s role. “We believe he can do it and that is why we call him a catalyst. We have not lost hope and even if the Assam CM asks us to wait for one more year, we would have no objections. We have waited for 44 years, and we have endless patience,” the Ulfa (I) leader said.
While being critical of Friday’s peace deal, Baruah extended good wishes to Ulfa cadres, emphasising their newfound freedom after decades in designated camps. “How can we go (for talks)? No one has given us that assurance yet (on discussing sovereignty). We do not want to sit for dialogue for a financial package,” he said, describing the peace pact with Ulfa as “less descriptive and more ruminative”.
However, Baruah made it clear that he was not surprised, angry, frustrated, or disappointed with the peace deal. “We knew this outcome 13 years ago. No one goes for discussions to sign a pact that has been arranged,” he said.
He said the agreement lacks specificity as it doesn’t provide a detailed description of what has been granted and the mechanisms for implementation. “This accord is more ruminative because it took 14 years. Does it take so long for this when all the things included in the accord were finalised in the last six months?”


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