On Thursday, the chief minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, slammed the Times of India for a report that claimed he was the first chief minister of the state to have made a “peace overture” towards the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) by promising to discuss “sovereignty”.
Sarma tweeted a picture of the report and said, “No Chief Minister can discuss Sovereignty of India with any one. This is non-negotiable.”
“This is FALSE,” he said.
I am aghast to see this news in @timesofindia. No Chief Minister can discuss Sovereignty of India with any one. This is non-negotiable. We all Indians, irrespective of our positions, are here to protect the sovereignty of India. I strongly refute the news report. This is FALSE. pic.twitter.com/LUjgeRr2ij
The report, , was headlined “Himanta 1st Assam CM ready to discuss Ulfa(l)’s core demand of ‘sovereignty’”. The headline was later changed to “Ulfa-I sovereignty call should be on talks agenda: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sharma”.
It quoted Sarma as saying on Wednesday that “an equilibrium has to be created between the perimeters of the Constitution and the outfit’s demand for sovereignty. I think their core issue will have to be discussed at some point in time..."
The report said: “Not once since the then undivided Ulfa's inception in 1979 had a CM come close to accepting that the topic of sovereignty could be on the agenda for a dialogue. Sarma’s predecessors had either opted for a military option or skirted the issue while talking of the need for peace talks.”
Newslaundry reached out to the reporter in question to clarify Sarma’s response to the report. This piece will be updated if we receive a response.