(This was originally posted in NDTV by Ratnadip Choudhury)
Guwahati: Hours after taking charge as Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sharma on Monday appealed to the United Liberation Front of Assam – Independent (ULFA-I) chief Paresh Barua to give up violence and come to the negotiation table in the interest of restoring permanent peace in the state.
The first time Chief Minister extended the appeal to other active insurgent groups in the state, urging them to come forward for a peace dialogue with both the state and the centre ending armed conflict. “Violence, kidnapping, extortion can never solve problems, it only makes things complicated,” Mr Sarma said at a press conference. “Therefore, our government appeals to all militant groups to come to the negotiation table and play a role in restoring peace in the state,” he added.
In the last week of April, top leader of ULFA-I, Dwipen Saud, was gunned down after a fierce gun battle with the security forces in western Assam’s Bongaigaon district. Dwipen Saud was the banned outfit’s newly appointed western command chief. He was appointed after former deputy commander-in-chief Drishti Rajkhowa surrendered in November.
In the run-up to the Assam polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an appeal to militants who have not surrendered yet to return to the mainstream as they are needed to create an ”Atmanirbhar Assam”. In February, 1,040 militants of five outfits surrendered at an arms laying down ceremony in Assam.