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On the heels of its 45th anniversary and in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the outlawed militant group Ulfa (I) has expressed a willingness to engage in peace talks with the Indian government.

In a video message, Ulfa (I) chairman Paresh Baruah stated that the outfit is “not averse to meaningful talks with India,” suggesting a possible shift in the group’s stance. This comes just before the crucial Lok Sabha elections, where the issue of Assam’s insurgency is likely to be a major talking point.

Ulfa (I), or the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), is a banned insurgent group seeking Assamese independence. The group has been responsible for violence in Assam for several decades.

It remains to be seen whether this newfound openness to talks will translate into concrete action. However, Baruah’s statement offers a glimmer of hope for a peaceful resolution to the long-standing conflict in Assam.