Incredibly good

PM Manmohan Singh who, on Monday, met Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi and ‘foreign secretary’ Shashadhar Choudhury is reportedly keen that both sides work sincerely to resolve all issues. The discussion seemed to have left Ulfa leaders buoyant. Choudhury said the meeting was “incredibly good”. The group will return to Assam on Tuesday and address the media about its meetings in Delhi. Meanwhile, the Centre is keen that Ulfa participates in the ensuing Assam elections. The outfit entering the fray will not only be a big blow to Barua and his patrons in the ISI, but will also help the Congress play the “peace card”. The current regime in Bangladesh has been a big help in the government’s bid to neutralize Ulfa. Bangladesh PM Sheikh Haseena’s decision not to provide a safe haven for the outfit’s cadre and other insurgents from the north-east has forced a re-think among the group, leading it to accept the Centre’s talks offer. After Ulfa agreed to unconditional talks with the government, the outfit’s leaders came to Delhi. On February 10, they met home minister P Chidambaram and home secretary G K Pillai. A joint-secretary-level meeting with Ulfa leaders has already been held in Delhi to work out the ground rules, including the location of camps for Ulfa cadres and surrender policy. As a next step, Ulfa is expected to bring to the table an agenda drawn up by the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA). Led by scholar and literateur Hiren Gohain, the SJA comprises around 110 prominent people and organizations of Assam who have got together to prepare the agenda for a peaceful solution, and mediate between Ulfa and the government. The agenda will spell out the demands for Assam, including more autonomy to the state to draw up its plan keeping in mind the aspirations and needs of the state, said an SJA member. Six SJA sub-committees have prepared an agenda for economy and planning; agriculture and rural development, land and right to natural resource, illegal immigration, Centre-state relations, and education and unemployment.

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