Baideo and our peace efforts : Lachit Bordoloi

PCG member Lachit Bordoloi conjectures how hurt Indira Goswami would be if she knew today that the ULFA is a divided force

Dr Indira Goswami, popularly known as Mamoni Raisom Goswami, is no more. It sounds strange that a personality, who had overcome many a suicide attempt and faced numerous odds in her life, should have to fight such a long battle with death before succumbing.
It is very difficult to say whether the life of Mamoni baideo is a success or a failure. However, it is beyond doubt that she accepted all odds that came her way with her usual smile, which is why her creative pen could spread love and the message of humanity. Like many other writers and litterateurs of Assam, she continued her creative works distancing herself from cheap politics or a mad rush for recognition. That was why when baideo had taken an initiative to hold peace talks between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the central government in order to put an end to the bloodbath in the state, the commoners, who have to bear the brunt of the ULFA-government conflict, saw a ray of hope. The reaction of writers and litterateurs of the state to the peace initiative taken by baideo was, however, mixed.

According to revelations made by baideo herself, she had gone to an ULFA camp in the course of researching for a novel. Touched by the hardship that the ULFA boys are subjected to and egged on by her humanity, baideo began to think of a solution to the problem that would not involve a bloodbath. She was hopeful that the peace process with the ULFA would be carried forward during the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, her one-time university colleague.

She did get the right response both from the government and the ULFA. The peace process started formally after Mamoni baideo handed over the ULFA’s letter stating its willingness for peace talks to the PM, and thereafter, the response letter from the PM’s Office (PMO) to the ULFA. With a view to translating into reality the possibilities generated by baideo’s efforts, the ULFA constituted the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) in 2005 with Mamoni baideo as the chief coordinator. Subsequently though, the PCG-led peace process reached a stalemate and it could not be revived despite repeated efforts by Mamoni baideo. Throughout the process, she had had to walk on a tightrope with every possibility of her being branded either as pro-ULFA or pro-New Delhi.

More recently, the pro-talks ULFA leaders have announced during the peace process initiated by the Hiren Gohain-led Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan that the PCG was not in conformity with the organisation’s constitution. Mamoni baideo, who was a stakeholder in both the PCG and the Sanmilita Jatiya Abhivartan, might have been troubled by such a political twist, but she was neither interested nor familiar with this kind of politics. That she had no inclination towards politics was a boon for her as it meant that she could easily overcome the criticism by and negative publicity in the media at the initial stage of her peace efforts. Because of her popularity, the high command of the ruling party also had invited her to join the party. The writer, however, rejected the offer in her characteristic mild manner.

Now, a section of the ULFA, led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, is holding talks with the Centre while the Paresh Baruah-led faction stays away. Had she been able to speak today, she would have said: “Paresh and Arabinda, both of you should take part in the peace talks, or else I will feel hurt, and the people of the state will feel bad.”

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