Friday, October 28, 2005

Hurriyat, Naxalites, NSCN (IM) and now ULFA

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ruled out the possibility of the dialogue with ULFA going the NSCN-IM way, by categorically stating that any talks with ULFA will have to follow the Constitutional framework, and that there would be no talks on redefining India’s boundaries. ULFA has been demanding a dialogue on sovereignty with the government. The government has had to make these proclamations owing to its own ineptness. In early October, it allowed ULFA extremists in Assam to get away after they were encircled by the Army in the Tinsukia forests. A brigade-level Army operation against the extremists was called off under intense pressure from those who hoped to bring the ULFA to the negotiating table. These included Indira Goswami, who has been playing the ULFA emissary, Congress leader Veerappa Moily and Minister of State for Defence and Jorhat MP B K Handique.

The problem runs deeper. Assam CM Tarun Gogoi has been privately pushing for operations against the ULFA but is worried that a tough public stance could affect poll fortunes next year. There is also the apprehension that some ULFA leaders are enjoying state patronage in Bangladesh where the ruling BNP is sympathetic to their demands.

The government will need to do some deft handling of this volatile situation lest the north-east slide into chaos.

No comments: