Guwahati: At a time when a discussion with the rebel group of group Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) and both the Centre and Assam government was on, union home secretary Ajay Bhalla met Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the Assam House in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Sources said that the reason behind the meeting was to discuss the ensuing peace agreement that is likely to be signed with KLO by the Republic day celebration this year. Floated in 1995 with the help of ULFA (I) by the members of the Koch Rajbangshi community, the KLO has been demanding a separate state encompassing parts of Cooch Behar, Malda, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri districts and stretches of Assam. The banned militant group has been mostly active in western Assam and northern Bengal.
Sources added, “Along with Bhalla, director of the intelligent bureau (IB) Tapan Deka, too was present in the discussions with the Assam CM for almost an hour about the peace agreement with KLO.”
However, no official words were shared on the discussion yet from the government side.
A preliminary discussion between the KLO leadership and home ministry officials was expected to be happening shortly to finalise the modalities of the proposed peace parley and negotiations.
Jeeban Singha, the self-styled commander-in-chief of KLO, was likely to lead the delegation of the rebel group. He along with some eight other members of the outfit was reportedly having already entered India from the jungles of Myanmar to participate in the talks.
A mobile video clip of Singha and others entering the Indian territory via Nagaland has already been sent to several media outlets in which the leader was seen after decades of exile. On January 12, Jeevan Singha had claimed that he and other leaders of the outfit would soon reach India to participate in “peace talks” with the Centre.
Earlier on January 2, the outfit sent a message via email informing that the KLO’s ongoing peace talks with the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have reached the ‘final stage’.
In December 2021, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma invited the outfit for ‘peace talks’. Sarma welcomed the leadership of KLO to join the mainstream as soon as possible to resolve all issues via political dialogues.
Taking to Twitter, Sarma wrote, “In Continuation with Govt of India’s efforts to bring lasting peace in the region, I welcome the desire of KLO leadership to join mainstream at an early date to resolve all issues through political dialogues. Govt of Assam would fully reciprocate this goodwill measure.”
Meanwhile, it’s still unclear about the clauses upon which the peace dialogue would take place. Biswajit Ray, who is part of a five-member committee formed by the KLO to facilitate talks with the Centre said that the outfit has agreed to sit in the peace talks only after the home ministry has assured to discuss the demand of a separate Kamatapur state and the long pending demand of scheduled tribe (ST) status to the Koch Rajbongshi community in the state.
However, it was unclear how the “peace talks” would progress when the Bengal government, a major stakeholder, was out of the loop.