GUWAHATI, Dec 1 - The United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) today made it clear that the outfit has not closed its doors for talks with the government. But at the same time, the outfit asserted that the talks would be held on the issue of sovereignty of Assam. It also admitted that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was, in fact, beneficial for the outfit as the youths of the State have realised the fact that the government does not pay heed to democratic movements.
Talking to The Assam Tribune over phone from an undisclosed location, ULFA(I) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah (Asom) said that from time to time, they have been receiving proposals through various sources for talks with the Government of India. He asserted that they have not closed its doors for talks with the government. But at the same time, he said that the talks must be held on the issue of sovereignty of Assam. He said that various countries have seen talks on demands for sovereignty and referendums were also held on the issue. He pointed out that there is no reason why the Government of India cannot hold talks on the issue of sovereignty or hold a referendum on the issue.
Baruah assured that if the Government of India takes one step forward with due sincerity for talks on the issue of sovereignty, the ULFA(I) would take three steps forward.
Replying to a question on whether the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was helping the ULFA(I) to recruit new cadres, he said that the outfit never faced shortage of manpower. �There is a limit up to which any organisation can accommodate cadres. There have been a regular flow of cadres to the ULFA(I),� he said. But at the same time, he admitted that because of the Central government�s effort to impose the Bill, the youths have realised the futility of democratic movements. He pointed out that over the years, the Government of India signed accords and never implemented those. Giving an example, he said that the Assam Accord has still not been implemented.
Baruah alleged that the political parties in power have been trying to use the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for their own benefit and when the BJP-led government realised that it would not serve their purpose, it brought the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. He said the government has already started saying that the persons who would be identified as foreigners after the publication of the NRC, would not be driven out of Assam.
Over the years, some of ULFA�s actions resulted in deaths of innocents and Baruah assured that all the cadres have been instructed to ensure that no innocent indigenous person of the State is harmed in the actions carried out by the cadres. �There have been instances in the past when local level commanders of the ULFA carried out operations where innocents were killed and they later went out of the organisation. We have learned from the mistakes and strict instructions have been given to all the cadres to ensure that no innocent person is harmed,� he added.
The ULFA(I) commander-in-chief said that from time to time a few journalists in league with Indian intelligence agencies float reports of his death to demoralise the cadres and to trace out his location. But at the same time, he said that instead of trying to do such things, the government should try to find a permanent solution to the issues.