Assam government welcomes ULFA unit’s truce call

June 25th, 2008 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, June 25 (IANS) The Assam government Wednesday welcomed the unilateral ceasefire announced by a crack unit of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and promised steps to push the peace process so that the rebels can join the mainstream. Two of the three companies of the ULFA’s 28th battalion, the group’s most potent strike unit, announced a truce Tuesday saying the move was aimed at facilitating efforts at restoring peace in Assam.

“We welcome the decision of the A and C companies of the 28th battalion of ULFA for giving up the path of confrontation and coming forward to the mainstream for talks with the government,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said in a statement.

Gogoi added: “The 28th battalion is one of the important battalions of the ULFA and this decision is definitely in the right direction which will help in ushering peace and prosperity in the State.”

The chief minister urged other ULFA units and cadres, besides other insurgent groups in the state to give up path of violence and come for talks within the framework for Constitution.

“The government will make all efforts and provide all facilities to bring the militants to the mainstream so that they can lead a normal life with honour and dignity and serve the society in a meaningful manner,” Gogoi said.

On the surface, this looks like a split in the ULFA, fighting for a ’sovereign, socialist Assam’ since its inception in 1979, but leaders who have called the truce say that is not so.

“The ULFA is not split and we shall disclose everything as to why we decided to declare the unilateral ceasefire,” said Jiten Dutta, commander of the ULFA’s 28th battalion and one of the leaders who have called the truce.

The rebel leaders who have announced the truce will address journalists Thursday at a secret rendezvous near Sadiya, in the easternmost tip of Assam.

Tuesday’s announcement meant that only the ‘B’ or the Bravo company of the ULFA’s 28th battalion is outside the purview of the truce.

“Since most of the top leaders and cadres of the ‘B’ Company are in bases abroad, they are not in a position to declare the truce,” the ULFA leader said.

The 28th battalion of the ULFA, also called the ‘Kashmir camp’, has its headquarters in Myanmar and was closely aligned with the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K).

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