Tripartite Agreement between GoI, ULFA & Assam Government

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  • Context (TH l PIB l IE): The pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) signed a historic tripartite peace deal with the GOI and the state government of Assam.
  • ULFA aimed to create an Independent and Socialist Assam through an arms struggle.
  • ULFA claims that Assam was never a part of India as the Treaty of Yandabu was signed between two imperial powers (i.e. Burma and Britishers) without the involvement of the Assamese people.

Treaty of Yandabu

  • The East India Company and the King of Ava signed a treaty.
  • This treaty had significant consequences, including the cession of Assam, Manipur, Arakan, and Tenasserim to the British.

Tripartite Peace Agreement

Significance of the Deal

  • The agreement between the pro-talks ULFA faction, the GOI, and the Assam state government marks a significant step towards peace.

Expert Opinions

  • Experts view the deal as a positive development but acknowledge uncertainties regarding its completeness and effectiveness.

ULFA and Assam’s Struggle

Formation of ULFA

  • The ULFA was established in 1979 by radical thinkers amidst growing concerns over the identity and resources of the indigenous Assamese population.

Cultural and Economic Shifts

  • Assam’s tea, coal and oil economy attracted migrants from all over.
  • The Partition and the subsequent exodus of refugees into the state from the erstwhile East Pakistan.

Assam Accord of 1985

  • Aiming to resolve the issue of foreigners in Assam, the Accord responded to a prolonged mass movement but failed to address all concerns.

Four Decades of Violence and State Response

ULFA’s Armed Struggle

  • The group sought a sovereign Assamese nation through armed conflict, resulting in kidnappings, extortion, and loss of life.

Operation Bajrang and AFSPA

  • In response, the GOI launched Operation Bajrang in 1990, imposing President’s rule and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Assam.
  • The GOI banned the organisation 1990 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, citing it as a terrorist organisation.

Internal Divisions and State Allegations

  • ULFA faced internal divisions, with one faction (SULFA) surrendering and allegedly conducting state-backed ‘secret killings’ of other ULFA members.

Camps in Neighboring Countries

  • ULFA maintained camps in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, using them to train, shelter, and launch cross-border operations.
  • The organisation established ties with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1983.

Connections with Global Terror Groups

  • The outfit established links with Islamic terror groups and Pakistan’s ISI, with its military chief reportedly meeting Osama Bin Laden.
  • ULFA openly supported Pakistan during the Kargil War.

Efforts Towards Peace

Peace Talks

  • In 2005, ULFA formed a ‘People’s Consultative Group’ for peace talks, but discussions broke down, leading to renewed violence.
  • Post-2008, some ULFA commanders sought peace talks, leading to a significant organisational split.

Pro-Talks Faction’s Demands

  • The pro-Talks faction submitted a 12-point charter of demands in 2012, leading to recent discussions and the historic tripartite peace agreement.

Operation All Clear

  • In 2003, Operation All Clear was launched by the Royal Bhutanese Army, with the `logistical support’ of the Indian security forces.
  • The objective was to clear southern Bhutan of camps of the ULFA, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO).
  • Several senior ULFA, NDFB and the KLO leaders were captured and handed over to the Indian Army.
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