GUWAHATI: The Centre has offered an olive branch to the Paresh Baruah faction of the insurgent group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).
Making the offer on behalf of the central government, Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday appealed to Baruah to join the peace talks.
The Arabinda Rajkhowa faction of the ULFA has been engaged in a peace process for the past few years and the Centre favours an inclusive solution.
Quoting Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Sarma said, “If Paresh Baruah is ready, then the Centre is more than willing to hold talks with them.” He said as the Centre desired lasting peace in the whole of the Northeast, it wants all groups of the region wielding the gun to join peace talks.
Baruah is considered a hardliner and had asserted many times in the past that his group would sit across the table only if the “sovereignty” of Assam is part of the agenda of the talks.
He has been holed up in Myanmar for many years and the Assam Police claim he is left with a little over 100 armed cadres.
ULFA was formed in 1979 to secure a sovereign Assam. Its leaders used to operate from Bangladesh, but in 2009, the government there had launched an offensive against militants from the Northeast. Most ULFA leaders were arrested but Baruah managed to flee to Myanmar.