ULFA softens demand on Assam independence

GUWAHATI Mon Jan 3, 2011 6:33pm IST

Soldiers stand guard in Guwahati in this February 15, 1998 file photo. REUTERS/Utpal Baruah/Files

Soldiers stand guard in Guwahati in this February 15, 1998 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Utpal Baruah/Files

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GUWAHATI (Reuters) - United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the top militant group fighting in the country's remote northeast for almost three decades has dropped its demand for independence in talks with New Delhi, softening its stand in an insurgency that has killed thousands of people.

The ULFA is one of the deadliest separatist groups in the northeast, and progress in resolving the insurgency, which has been a drain on resources, would boost New Delhi in a region rich in oil and tea.

Arabinda Rajkhowa, also known as Rajib Rajkonwar, chairman of ULFA, said on Sunday his group was for the first time willing to talk to the government without condition.

The group has until now set conditions, including talks under United Nations supervision on the independence of Assam state. New Delhi rejected that demand.

"If our peace efforts fail we will come back to you and seek your guidance on whether to take up arms again or fight it out politically for our rights," Rajkhowa, who was caught in 2009 and released on bail this month, told a public rally.

Thousands have died in three decades of violence since ULFA was formed in 1979 in Assam, demanding independence from India which it accused of plundering the region's mineral and agricultural resources, but public support for the group has sagged recently.

(Reporting By Biswajyoti Das; Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Daniel Magnowski)

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Comments (3)
subash9898 wrote:
ULFA Leaders if they truly would like to ensure better future for the people of ASSAM then they should force the minister in New Delhi to upgrade its defense forces in north east region especially the Chinese border and should even try their best to reason with the Delhi govt to join the NATO.the biggest threat to north east is china.People of North East should wake up to see how the Tibetans in their own land are treated as third rate citizen and once these Chinese invade the north east the people in this region will feel the Chinese bayonet in their back 24 x 7 till eternity.

Jan 03, 2011 8:52pm IST  --  Report as abuse
bareque wrote:
After killing and maiming thousands valuable lives and destroying resources of a backward state for wrong reasons for decades, they are now softening their stand for power.

Jan 03, 2011 11:25pm IST  --  Report as abuse
harrycool wrote:
all organizations like ULFA or Maoists or whatever feed and breed on injustice and resulting lack of public support. dwindling public support is a good sign. at least an indicator that the govt has got its act right to an extent. now as the public support vanishes the organization will vanish as well. govt need not worry about the talks. just continue with rightful development that brings prosperity to the region and things will fall in place.

Jan 04, 2011 2:09am IST  --  Report as abuse
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