The Government of India today welcomed the announcement made by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) yesterday to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period to create a conducive atmosphere for the peace talks with the government and expressed confidence that it would contribute to peace and normalcy in Assam.
"It is expected that a Suspension of Operation (SoO) Agreement will be signed and ground rules for observing the agreement will be finalised in the near future. Government of India, in consultation with Government of Assam, will facilitate an early start to the talks," Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said in a statement here.
He recalled that, in February 2011, the leaders of ULFA, including its Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, had called on the Assam Chief Minister, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and him and expressed their desire to seek a political solution to their demands.
"Subsequently, the government of Assam and the Government of India have been in touch with the leaders of the organisation. Government has always expressed its willingness to hold a dialogue with any militant group that will abjure violence, lay down arms and seek a solution through peaceful and democratic means.
"Government of India is confident that the announcement by ULFA will contribute to peace and normalcy in Assam," Mr Chidambaram added.
In a statement yesterday, Mr Rajkhowa had said that the ceasefire shall be with immediate effect and binding on all its cadres.
"The ULFA, with a view to explore a lasting peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict, resolves to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period,'' he said.
''All members of the organisation are commanded hereby to scrupulously implement the decision in letter and spirit and any infringement thereof will be considered as an anti-organisational act and shall be dealt with accordingly," he said.
The ULFA leader said he had declared the ceasefire in accordance with a decision in the 5th general council of the outfit on February 22, which had authorized him to make the announcement, whenever needed.
Mr Rajkhowa said the decision to declare the ceasefire was in keeping with the desire by all to create a conducive atmosphere for political dialogue.
Referring to the ULFA leadership’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and the Assam Chief Minister, among others, he said, ''In the course of such exchanges, everybody has expressed their earnest desire that an honourable, meaningful discussion should continue in a peaceful atmosphere conducive for political negotiations.''
Mr Rajkhowa is leading the ULFA faction that is engaged in formal talks with the government, though a section of the outfit, led by its elusive ‘c-in-c’ Paresh Barua, has stayed out of the peace process.