Updated: August 15, 2021 7:14:49 pm
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made an appeal Sunday to Paresh Baruah, chief of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), to join talks for peace.
“On behalf of the 3.09 crore people of Assam, I appeal to Paresh Baruah of the ULFA (I) to come forward for dialogue,” Sarma said during his speech on the country’s 75th Independence Day in Khanapara, Guwahati.
The Chief Minister said this was a particularly significant Independence Day for Assam, as it was for the first time that no militant outfit had called for a bandh. Earlier this week, ULFA (I) broke tradition and said it would not call for any armed protest on August 15.
Sarma also conferred the ‘Chief Minister’s Special Service Medal in a Crisis Situation’ to six Assam Police personnel killed in violence along the interstate border with Mizoram on July 26. “Assam is committed to resolving border disputes and maintaining peace with other northeastern states, but without compromising with the state’s constitutional boundary,” he said.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for bringing peace to the region, Sarma said, “Peace has returned to Bodoland after the cadres of NDFB militants surrendered,” stressing that dialogue is the best way forward.
In May, Sarma – in his first press conference after taking oath as CM – had appealed to the ULFA (I) chief tto shun violence and return to the mainstream. The outfit later declared a unilateral ceasefire for three months on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. On Saturday, ULFA(I) extended the ceasefire for three more months.
On Sunday, Sarma said his government was committed to the “war against drugs and human trafficking”, pointing out that “150 women and children have been rescued from different parts of Assam in the past three months.”
He made a personal appeal to the people of Assam to take care of their ageing parents and promised seven days’ leave for government employees on the condition that they spend more time with parents.
The Chief Minister also asked citizens to observe the birth and death anniversaries of Vaishnavite saints Srimanta Sankardeva and Madhabdeva, avoid single-use plastic, refrain from marrying off daughters before the age of 21 and work an extra hour in government offices to help Assam become one of the top five states in the country.