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ULFA pact on cards before Assam assembly polls

Security personnel patrol a deserted road during a curfew in Baksa district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam

New Delhi: Ahead of the Assam assembly elections next year, the Centre may sign a peace accord with pro-talk faction of the ULFA to bring an end to the nearly four decades of insurgency in the northeastern state.

Hectic parleys have been going on between central government’s interlocutor P C Halder and the ULFA faction led by its ‘chairman’ Arabinda Rajkhowa almost every week for an amicable solution to the group’s demands after it threatened to walk out of the talks if no solution comes by November-end.

The peace accord may not be ready by November-end but Home Ministry is making efforts to finalise it well before the next year’s assembly elections.

“Efforts are on to achieve a breakthrough soon,” Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told PTI.

Elections to the 126-member Assam assembly are due in April-May next year. The BJP may try to take credit if an accord is signed before the polls in its bid to dislodge the Congress, which is ruling the state for three consecutive terms.

“We want an early solution to the ULFA issue,” Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the lone representative from Assam in the Modi council of ministers, told PTI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who oversaw the peace accord signed with Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM in August, is believed to be in favour of early conclusion of the peace agreement with ULFA.

If a peace accord is signed in next two-three months, some of the ULFA leaders are expected to contest the assembly elections. A former ULFA leader, Hira Sarania, is now an MP (Independent) in Lok Sabha after he successfully contested the 2014 Parliamentary elections.