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1,179 Bru militants surrender in Assam

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Hailakandi, Dec 12 (PTI): A total of 1,179 Bru militants belonging to two outfits surrendered in Assam’s Hailakandi district and laid down 350 firearms on Monday, police said.

Additional director general of police (Special Branch) Hiren Chandra Nath said that insurgents who surrendered belonged to the United Democratic Liberation Front of Barak Valley (UDLF-BV) and Bru Revolutionary Army of Union (BRAU).

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The two outfits that were active mostly in areas along the Assam-Mizoram border laid down AK series rifles, M16 rifles and other firearms besides over 400 cartridges.

Altogether 634 members of BRAU, led by Rajesh Charki, and 545 UDLF-BV militants, headed by Dhanyaram Reang, surrendered during the day, Nath said.

“The peace process with these two groups had been underway since 2017. There were some differences, but under the guidance of chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, we could convince them to come to the negotiating table.”

“Other formalities and rehabilitation process will begin soon. We will take the process forward in such a manner that no new militant group is formed in the area in future,” the senior police officer said.

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The militants, who were already in ceasefire with security forces, formally laid down their arms before Assam Assembly speaker Biswajit Daimary and Water Resources minister Pijush Hazarika.

Talking to reporters after the ceremony, Daimary said, “The Government will be adequately addressing their concerns and provide them with funds for development. I also urge all other youth who are still in armed groups to abjure violence.”

Hazarika said that the surrendered militants raised mostly developmental issues and the Government will ensure that the genuine demands are met.

BRAU ‘commander-in-chief’ Charki said that they are happy to come overground and reiterated the demand for an autonomous economic council for the Bru community.

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He claimed that most Bru-inhabited villages near the Assam-Mizoram border areas are yet to see development and sought schemes from the Government for the betterment of these areas.

The BRAU also submitted a charter of demands addressed to the chief minister, seeking land for the community under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, and Scheduled Tribe (Plain) status in the state.

Their other demands include Government jobs for the youth of the Bru community and developmental works such as electrification and construction of roads, schools and hospitals in the area predominantly inhabited by the community.

For the surrendered BRAU cadres, they have demanded ex-gratia for the ex-militants as well as families of those killed over the years, lifting of criminal cases against the cadres and entitling them benefits under Prime Minister Awas Yojana.

 

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