ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Drifting towards Containment

Drifting towards Containment Delhi’s reaction to the admittedly impossible-toconcede sovereignty demands of the various separatist outfits operating in Assam and other parts of the north-eastern region has always been one predictable drift.

There is an occasional stirring when the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Assam’s separatist outfit, perpetrates a particularly outrageous atrocity against non-Assamese citizens. The union home minister and his officials “air-dash” to Guwahati to take stock of the situation; the flying visit lasts as a rule not more than a few hours. This is invariably followed by the renewal of calls upon ULFA leaders to eschew the path of violence and hold talks. Of course, this is little more than a charade that has been enacted often. ULFA says that it will sit for talks only if its demand for sovereignty is specifically inscribed in the agenda (something that the separatist leaders know not even the weakest of states will agree to discuss), while Delhi says that it will discuss anything without specifically mentioning the usual qualification – that such talks should be within the framework of the Constitution. This makebelieve has been going on and on, for none seems to be seriously interested in breaking away from such a no-exit situation, made even more complicated by the widely held view that ULFA leaders are now perhaps not even free agents, but are being manipulated by hostile foreign powers, with the usual suspects, Pakistan and Bangladesh, at the top.

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