The Robinhood image that ULFA had acquired in 1990-91 through “social services” and some other populism means like anti-corruption drive and campaign against alcoholism was lost after the outfit indulged in large-scale extortion, mayhem and murder plunging Assam into an atmosphere of all pervading fear and insecurity.
The common people deciding to corne ULFA only reflected the change in attitude of people towards the outfit and one-time dream organisation – pledging to take ‘Aai Assam (Mother Assam)’ to new frontier was only provoking a series of surrender by its cadres.
Bhutan and Bangladesh then co-operated with India and finally ULFA has been cornered.
Finally on February 9, a 20-member high level delegation from Assam
comprising 11 senior state government officials and ULFA core group
led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa arrived in the national capital to
begin the formal talks with the centre from February 10, 2011.
The ULFA delegation comprise among others, key leaders from the rebel
group's decision-making central executive committee, including deputy
commander-in-chief Raju Barua, general secretary Pradip Gogoi, foreign secretary Sashadhar Choudhury, Cultural secretary Ms Pranati Deka, finance
secretary Chitrabon Hazarika and media secretary Mithinga Daimary.
The ULFA leaders would make a courtesy call to union Home Minister Mr
P Chidambaram and later begin the formal talks with the Home
Secretary, Mr G K Pillai in presence of centre's interlocutor P C Haldar, former IB chief.
The ULFA leadership is also likely to meet the Prime Minister Dr
Manmohan Singh, also a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, during the
weekend. From the state government, Assam chief secretary N K Das, additional DGP (special branch) Khagen Sarma, and state home commissioner Jishnu Baruah would be among others in the delegation to participate at the talks.
The ULFA leaders are still keeping their fingers crossed on the agenda
to be brought at the table from their end.
As a major booster to the peace process, government and the ULFA are
likely to announce 'ceasefire or cessation of arms conflict' to take the talks forward. However, the militant group is also likely to raise issues like border sealing along Bangladesh and several pending developmental projects. The government is keeping a close eyes on ULFA's stance on citizenship issue in Assam. The 25th April, 1971 is one cut off date discussed from time to time in Assam by political parties like AGP and students' body All Assam Students' Union.
According to that demand, any citizen allegedly from Bangladesh who
arrived Assam after that cut off date should be deported. This is
something very complex issue for the government to implement and also
has been rejected by sizeable Bengali population of the state.
The Congress thinks it can benefit from the talks process in ensuing state
In Mizoram, Laldenga signed an acoord in 1986 to become Chief Minister. In Assam too, the accord was signed in 1985 heralding then nascent regional outfit AGP's coming to power.
What are the expected scenes this time, the answer to lay remains in the womb of time, as one of favourite patrons put it.