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Centre, ULFA sign ceasefire agreement

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Sept 3 � Nearly seven months after ULFA and the Centre had met for what was described as an ice-breaking meeting, the three sides, including Assam government, on Saturday formally signed a ceasefire pact.

An official statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that a tripartite agreement for suspension of operations (SoO) against ULFA was signed here today.

The Government of India was represented by the Joint Secretary (North-East), Ministry of Home Affairs, Shambhu Singh, while Government of Assam was represented by the Home Commissioner Jishnu Barua and Addl. Director General of Police Khagen Sharma. ULFA was represented by Shashadhar Chaudhuri, Chitraban Hazarika and Raju Barua.

�ULFA had earlier agreed to abjure violence and find a solution to the problems as perceived by them through peaceful negotiations with the Government of India and Government of Assam,� the brief statement said.

ULFA had on July 12 unilaterally announced ceasefire with the Centre, five months after the top leaders of the outfit led by chairman Arabinda Rajkohwa met the Central leadership, including the Prime Minister.

The SoO was finalised by a seven-member committee that was constituted in February with Joint Secretary (North-east) as coordinator. The committee comprises three representatives from ULFA and two officials each of Government of India and Government of Assam.

Unlike other militant outfits, barring perhaps NSCN (I-M), the period for ceasefire has not been specified and the SoO would continue.

On Saturday though, the ULFA leaders were guarded in their comments and said the discussions were routine and part of the series of discussions the ULFA have been having with the Centre. The ULFA even declined to acknowledge that they had signed the SoO agreement with the Centre and Assam government.

It was left up to Joint Secretary (North-east) to declare that a SoO was formally signed. However, he too refused to reveal the ground rules of the agreement.

When asked about the contentious issues of surrender of weapons by ULFA, Singh responded by stating that it was all there in the agreement.

ULFA leader Shashadhar Choudhury, when asked whether they were going to surrender their weapons, shot back, �Why should we?�. Nothing in this regard has been discussed today, he stressed.

The Centre wanted the outfit to surrender their weapons but was willing to settle for keeping them under double lock condition.

Sources said ULFA has agreed to confine their cadres to the designated camps but they requested the Centre to re-christen them as �Naba Nirman Kendras�. �We have agreed to their request and conveyed that we have no problems in renaming them,� said an official, who was part of the discussions.

The Joint Secretary, meanwhile, said that the stage is now all set for start of the political dialogue. �I am soon going to convey to our interlocutor PC Haldar to start the negotiation process,� he added.

Shashadhar Choudhury, too, said they hope to continue with the political dialogue with the government.

The dialogue today, held at a posh five star hotel, lasted for over three hours and the draft ground rule agreement prepared by Home Ministry in consultation with the State government was discussed in details, said sources.

A member of the ULFA team said they were concerned about their cadres and the stressed on the need to establish the designated camps.

ULFA has projected a requirement to house 600 cadres, including 400 recent ones, who switched sides to the pro-talk faction. Arabinda Rajkohwa initially had about 200 cadres, said sources.

The foundation work of the first designated camp spread over 50 bighas of land at Tihu in Nalbari district has already started.

Meanwhile, the ground rules also talk about banning on collection of taxes and extortion. The Centre has offered financial support to the outfit to meet its day-to-day expenditures, said sources.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)

Centre, ULFA sign ceasefire agreement

NEW DELHI, Sept 3 � Nearly seven months after ULFA and the Centre had met for what was described as an ice-breaking meeting, the three sides, including Assam government, on Saturday formally signed a ceasefire pact.

An official statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that a tripartite agreement for suspension of operations (SoO) against ULFA was signed here today.

The Government of India was represented by the Joint Secretary (North-East), Ministry of Home Affairs, Shambhu Singh, while Government of Assam was represented by the Home Commissioner Jishnu Barua and Addl. Director General of Police Khagen Sharma. ULFA was represented by Shashadhar Chaudhuri, Chitraban Hazarika and Raju Barua.

�ULFA had earlier agreed to abjure violence and find a solution to the problems as perceived by them through peaceful negotiations with the Government of India and Government of Assam,� the brief statement said.

ULFA had on July 12 unilaterally announced ceasefire with the Centre, five months after the top leaders of the outfit led by chairman Arabinda Rajkohwa met the Central leadership, including the Prime Minister.

The SoO was finalised by a seven-member committee that was constituted in February with Joint Secretary (North-east) as coordinator. The committee comprises three representatives from ULFA and two officials each of Government of India and Government of Assam.

Unlike other militant outfits, barring perhaps NSCN (I-M), the period for ceasefire has not been specified and the SoO would continue.

On Saturday though, the ULFA leaders were guarded in their comments and said the discussions were routine and part of the series of discussions the ULFA have been having with the Centre. The ULFA even declined to acknowledge that they had signed the SoO agreement with the Centre and Assam government.

It was left up to Joint Secretary (North-east) to declare that a SoO was formally signed. However, he too refused to reveal the ground rules of the agreement.

When asked about the contentious issues of surrender of weapons by ULFA, Singh responded by stating that it was all there in the agreement.

ULFA leader Shashadhar Choudhury, when asked whether they were going to surrender their weapons, shot back, �Why should we?�. Nothing in this regard has been discussed today, he stressed.

The Centre wanted the outfit to surrender their weapons but was willing to settle for keeping them under double lock condition.

Sources said ULFA has agreed to confine their cadres to the designated camps but they requested the Centre to re-christen them as �Naba Nirman Kendras�. �We have agreed to their request and conveyed that we have no problems in renaming them,� said an official, who was part of the discussions.

The Joint Secretary, meanwhile, said that the stage is now all set for start of the political dialogue. �I am soon going to convey to our interlocutor PC Haldar to start the negotiation process,� he added.

Shashadhar Choudhury, too, said they hope to continue with the political dialogue with the government.

The dialogue today, held at a posh five star hotel, lasted for over three hours and the draft ground rule agreement prepared by Home Ministry in consultation with the State government was discussed in details, said sources.

A member of the ULFA team said they were concerned about their cadres and the stressed on the need to establish the designated camps.

ULFA has projected a requirement to house 600 cadres, including 400 recent ones, who switched sides to the pro-talk faction. Arabinda Rajkohwa initially had about 200 cadres, said sources.

The foundation work of the first designated camp spread over 50 bighas of land at Tihu in Nalbari district has already started.

Meanwhile, the ground rules also talk about banning on collection of taxes and extortion. The Centre has offered financial support to the outfit to meet its day-to-day expenditures, said sources.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)