GUWAHATI: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has permitted Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to hold direct talks with ULFA-I chairman Paresh Baruah.
The development came at a meeting between Sarma and Shah in New Delhi on Monday night.
If it happens, it will be the first instance of an Assam Chief Minister on the peace front in the state. Earlier, the ULFA did form a People's Consultative Group for taking the peace process forward. However, the move failed to materialize.
Talking to the media here today, the Chief Minister said, "After its formation, the State Government has been maintaining some sorts of communication with ULFA chairman Paresh Baruah. I inquired of the Hon'ble Union Home Minister whether I can hold talks directly with him (ULFA chairman) if such a situation arises.
"He (Shah) said 'yes' with a rider that something tangible should emerge. If something concrete happens, it has to be a structural dialogue.
"I just took the permission to speak with Paresh Baruah over the telephone or through other media. We are at the preliminary stage. It will be a long way to go. If Paresh Baruah wants, we can take the peace process to an extent.
"The Hon'ble Home Minister says that if the peace process reaches a certain level, the Government of India will get involved in it."
After taking oath on May 10, 2021, the Chief Minister appealed to the ULFA-I to come forward with peace talks. The outfit also reciprocated the Chief Minister's gesture with a ceasefire.
The recently formed ULB (United Liberation of Boroland) threatened through a Video message that if NDFB leader Ranjan Daimary is not released, they will start killing people in the state from October.
Reacting to that, the Chief Minister said, "How can the government give leeway to any such organization adopting arm-twisting tactics? The government has not sent anybody to jail. It's the Court that sends such people to jail. The government must be tough when the situation demands so. Does the message mean that blasts will rock Ganeshguri in October again? We cannot take at ease when anybody issues a threat through video or television.
"I request the people Kokrajhar, Udalguri and the entire state not to allow insurgents raise their ugly heads again. We are signing agreements with insurgent outfits one after another. How long can we sign such agreements if newer outfits keep coming this way? One day, the government will get fed up with signing peace agreements. Our stand is crystal clear – we won't allow insurgents to raise their ugly heads in the state again?"
When asked about the allegation of two innocent youths killed by security personnel, the Chief Minister said, "The government will get the allegation probed."