KLO chief's return to mainstream is big news: Assam CM


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Guwahati, Jan 19, 2023, IANS


Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday that it is big news that Jiban Singha Koch, the self-styled chief of militant outfit Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), has returned to the mainstream.

Speaking to mediapersons in Delhi, Sarma said, "He (Jiban Singha) has joined the mainstream a few days back... Let him take rest for some time then he will start discussions with the government."

Singha, along with nine members of his outfit, surrendered before the security forces in the Longwa region in Nagaland's Mon district last Friday. He is expected to join the peace talks with the Central government soon.

Sarma, who also holds the home portfolio, said that efforts are on to bring the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) led by Paresh Baruah to talks with the government.

"We have told people about the issues we have with ULFA. However, despite that, we are directly and indirectly in touch with the ULFA leadership. I am hopeful of resolving this issue within this (five-year) tenure," the Chief Minister said.

Sarma, who is in Delhi to finalise various issues relating to Assembly elections in three northeastern states, had said in his Independence Day speech last year that sovereignty is non-negotiable.

Operating out of the Myanmar territory, ULFA-I had twice extended the unilateral ceasefire in 2021. Restoration of Assam's sovereignty is one of the core demands of the outfit.

Earlier, the pro-talk faction of ULFA had submitted a charter of demand to the Centre. The peace talks between a faction of ULFA and Centre had started in 2011.

ULFA General Secretary, Anup Chetia, was extradited to India in November 2015 from Bangladesh. Later he had joined the peace process.

KLO chief Jiban Singha had formed the group in 1995. Its demands include a separate state with parts of Cooch Behar, Malda, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal, as well as four districts of Assam -- Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara -- Kishanganj in Bihar and Jhapa district in Nepal.

The KLO cadres claim that the organisation's aim is to address the problems of the Koch Rajbongshi people, including large-scale unemployment, land alienation, perceived neglect of the Kamtapuri language, economic deprivation, etc.

Earlier, just before last year's Independence Day, Singha had issued an appeal to the President and the Prime Minister of India to meet the outfit's longstanding demand for a separate Kamtapur state.

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