Published On: Sat, May 15th, 2021

ULFA-I announces unilateral ceasefire in Assam for 3 months

Guwahati: Days after Himanta Biswa Sarma, the new Assam Chief Minister, appealed to militant outfits to shun violence and join the mainstream, the outlawed The United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) on Saturday announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months with immediate effect.

Through negotiations and talks all problems are expected to be solved

ULFA-I, led by self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, in a statement, said that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the outfit has “unilaterally suspended all kind of military operations in Assam for three months from May 15”.

The statement, in Assamese language, also alleged that the security forces had hatched a clandestine plan to malign the ULFA-I.

After 2006, this is the second time the anti-talk banned outfit has announced a unilateral ceasefire in the state.

The ULFA-I announcement came five days after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma appealed to ULFA-I supremo Barua and other extremist outfits to come forward for peace talks.

After taking oath as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam, Sarma on Monday had urged ULFA-I led by Paresh Barua and other militant groups to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream.

“Through negotiations and talks all problems are expected to be solved. Killings and abduction turn the situation more complicated,” he had said.

Sarma on Thursday said that the state government is taking all possible steps to rescue ONGC engineer Ritul Saikia from the captivity of the outlawed ULFA-I.

Sarma, who also holds the home portfolio, met Saikia’s wife and younger brother, during his visit to Majuli on Thursday.

The ULFA-I on April 21 had kidnapped three engineers of the state owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation from a drilling site at Lakwa in eastern Assam’s Sibsagar district.

The Army, along with Assam Rifles troopers rescued two hostages from captivity following a fierce encounter with militants on April 23 night, but Saikia (the third engineer) is still missing.

The anti-talk outlawed ULFA-I had recently released radio operator Ram Kumar, a resident of Bihar, and drilling superintendent Pranab Kumar Gogoi of Sivasagar district, more than 100 days after the two employees of Delhi-based private oil and gas exploration company Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Ltd were abducted from Arunachal Pradesh last year.

Demanding a sovereign Assam, ULFA was formed in 1979 and has been carrying out insurgency in the northeastern state since then.

In 2011, another faction of ULFA, under Arabinda Rajkhowa, had announced a unilateral ceasefire for political negotiation and joined the peace process but the move was strongly opposed by Paresh Barua.

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