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Centre may seal UPDS deal soon

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Dec 22 � In a race against time, hectic negotiations are on to seal a deal by the Centre with the United People�s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) ahead of New Year. Tripartite talks on Tuesday remained inconclusive though negotiations are likely to resume tomorrow.

In what could be the first success story for Centre�s interlocutor P C Haldar, signing of an accord with the UPDS is likely within the next couple of days, tentatively soon after the Christmas celebrations, as all the three parties have managed to narrow down their differences.

A five-member delegation of the UPDS led by general secretary S Bey and joint secretary (political affairs) W Mukrang has been camping in the capital since last couple of days meeting senior officials of the Home Ministry and government�s interlocutor informally.

On Tuesday, the three sides held a marathon session at a five star hotel here to iron out the differences. Those who attended the talks included Haldar, Joint Secretary (North-east) Shambhu Singh, while the State Government was represented by senior official K D Tripathi, Commissioner Jishnu Barua, Additional DG, Khagen Sarma.

Sources said the State Government has opposed the main demand for an autonomous State under Article 244 A of the Constitution. The State Government though has agreed to convert the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into Karbi Autonomous Territorial Council (KATC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The KAAC may be called the Karbi Autonomous Territory (KAT) after amending the Sixth Schedule.

The differences over the demand for creation of new districts have also not been sorted out, as State Government is reluctant to concede to the demand for change of boundaries. The geographical area of the proposed council is yet to be agreed upon, he added.

UPDS is demanding creation of new geographical boundaries by including territories of four districts of Assam including the Nagaon and North Cachar Hills districts within the proposed autonomous council. A political map was submitted along with the charter of demands by UPDS. This, said sources, is being opposed by the State Government apprehending future problems.

There are certain proposals of UPDS, which the State Government has opposed, while there were others which the Centre has objected to. Further, UPDS has not agreed to accept the counter-proposals offered by the government, said sources in the Home Ministry.

The Centre and State Government have opposed dilution of the role of the Council of Ministers by amending the Sixth Schedule. On the relation with the Governor, the UPDS charter of demands the Council of Ministers has the right to advise the Governor under Article 163. Under Para 20BA of the Sixth Schedule, the Governor is to required to consult the Council of Ministers.

Both the Centre and State Government have agreed to the demands for granting general amnesty to all UPDS leaders and cadres.

The proposed KAT is likely to be a 55-member council with 45 seats reserved for Karbis, five seats for other indigenous tribes and five seats in general category.

The UPDS has demanded that the election to the proposed council would be conducted by the Election Commission of India, not by the Assam Election Department. The UPDS has also demanded introduction of inner-line permit system.

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