ULFA truce welcome, but no cause for euphoria(News Analysis)

June 28th, 2008 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, June 28 (IANS) The ceasefire announced by one of the crack units of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has changed the security and insurgency dynamics in Assam, but analysts have cautioned the government not to be euphoric and instead tread cautiously. A lot of heat is off the back of the security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations because the 28th battalion of the ULFA, two of whose companies have called the truce Tuesday, has been the rebel group’s most potent strike force, wreaking havoc in the eastern districts.

The security forces have got a definite respite with the Alpha and Charlie companies of the ULFA’s 28th battalion calling a truce. But it would be naive to think, even remotely, that the ULFA insurrection will end as a result of only this, said Topon Lal Baruah, president of the Guwahati-based Centre for Development and Peace Studies, a think tank.

The points made by the pro-talk ULFA leaders to justify their decision to call a unilateral truce are significant.

Mrinal Hazarika and Jiten Dutta, two senior leaders of the 28th battalion, told a news conference Thursday that they have been forced to take this step because their central leaders preferred to remain silent on several key issues confronting Assam.

One of the reasons for their revolt, the pro-talk leaders said, was the central leaders’ lack of response to the illegal migration from Bangladesh that, they said, was posing a threat to the identity of the indigenous Assamese people.

The leaders of the pro-talk 28th battalion said their central leaders may have failed to appreciate the ground situation in view of their long absence from Assam.

The fact that the pro-talk leaders have cited the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration as one of the reasons for their calling the truce is significant.

It appears they are making an attempt to put the ULFA central leaders, who Indian authorities say are operating from Bangladesh, in the dock by raising an issue that is being pushed by influential mainstream groups in the state.

The ULFA leadership may not pay any heed to the call by the pro-talk leaders to come forward for an unconditional dialogue with the Indian government. But ULFA leaders would be forced to sit up and take notice of the latest development.

The ULFA may respond by trying to repair the damage and even rebuild the two companies of the 28th battalion. But the group cannot help but introspect as to why this has happened, said Wasbir Hussain, a security analyst.

The challenge of the government now will be to consolidate on the gain and take things to the next level, that of peace talks. But the authorities are aware that talks with a faction of the ULFA may not yield the desired results.

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