Guwahati, July 16 : The disconnect between the ULFA leadership and its cadres has been an open secret in Assam for quite a few years. This came out into the open last week when two major divisions of the outfit's mainstay 28th battalion, revolted against the leadership accusing them of working against the interests of the people of Assam.
The people of Assam have welcomed this development. Meanwhile, in desperation ULFA resorted to violence and killing of innocent people.
"We battalion level leaders are not competent to sit in such negotiations. This is why we are convinced that direct talks between our central leadership and the Indian government, in conjunction with the Assam government is the need of the hour," said Mrinal Hazarika, a former cadre and "commander", 28th battalion, ULFA.
Noni Gopal Mahanta, Professor, Conflict Resolution, Guwahati University, said, "I believe that other battalion might realize that this is quite serious. How far a leadership, which is outside the state, can realize this burning issue? So in that way, this is the fundamental difference between the previous kinds of surrendering as compared to this time."
It is not only the analysts who are appreciating the positive development, the people of Assam too are happy.
Assam Public Works, a non-government organization working for peace in the state, organized a peace march to welcome the change.
"First of all, we welcome the 28th battalion, which as declared ceasefire. We request all the battalions to come forward and sit for the talks to solve the problem of Assam," said Abhijit Sharma, Director, Assam Public Works.
Thousands of the people have come out on the streets. It is this pressure for peace and disenchantment with violence that compelled the cadres of the ULFA to join the mainstream and debunk their leadership that is operating from a foreign country.
"I firmly want to appeal that we need a good political strategy. We need good policy to tackle the insurgency and that is why I strongly believe that it should be the effort of the government of India, to bring the leader to the negotiating table and peace will become lasting and sustainable," said Noni Gopal Mahanta.
But the question is does ULFA leadership want peace? How can the government hold talks with an outfit that is indulging in mindless killing in desperation?
"Whose interest Paresh Barua is serving? Of India or of Assam or of inimical forces?" asked Tarun Gogoi, Assam Chief Minister.
In recent months, security forces have managed to curb the activities of the ULFA.
In addition, lack of people's support and sympathy for the outfit and its cause has been a major reason for the marginalization of the organization in the state. By Peter Alex Todd and Vaschipem Kamondan