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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
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.
- Experts view the deal as a positive development but acknowledge uncertainties regarding its completeness and effectiveness.
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.
ULFA’s External Support and Links
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
- 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.
- 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.