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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Peace Pact Inked With 8 Assam Tribal Rebel Groups

Agreement will usher in a new era of peace and harmony in Assam: Himanta

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Sept 15: The Centre on Thursday signed an agreement with eight tribal militant organisations based in Assam to bring a lasting peace in some areas of the state.

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The tripartite agreement among the Central and State governments and the eight groups, including All Adivasi National Liberation Army, Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam, Birsa Commando Force, Santhal Tiger Force, and Adivasi People’s Army, was signed here in presence of Union Home minister Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma among others.

The groups have been in ceasefire since 2012 and live in designated camps.

“I am sure signing of the agreement will usher in a new era of peace and harmony in Assam,” Sarma said.

Except the hardline faction of the banned ULFA, led by Paresh Baruah, and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, all other rebel groups active in the state have entered into peace agreements with the government.

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In January, all cadres belonging to the Tiwa Liberation Army and the United Gorkha People’s Organisations surrendered with arms and ammunition.

In August, the Kuki Tribal Union militants laid down their arms.

In December 2020, around 4,100 cadres belonging to all factions of the Bodo militant group NDFB had surrendered their arms before the authorities.

Union home minister Amit Shah presided over the signing of the historic agreement in New Delhi on Thursday. The agreement was signed to end the decades-old crisis of Adivasis and tea garden workers in Assam.

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Besides Sarma, Rameswar Teli, MoS, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas; Pallab Lochan Das, Member of Parliament (LS); Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, MP (RS); Sanjoy Kishan, minister, Govt of Assam; representatives of eight Adivasi Groups along with senior officers from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Govt of Assam were present on the occasion.

On the occasion of the historic agreement signed on Thursday, Shah said that in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a peaceful and prosperous Northeast, this agreement will prove to be another important milestone in the direction of making Northeast extremism free by 2025.

He said that after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, many efforts have been made in the direction of making the Northeast peaceful and developed, the most important of which is to establish peace in the region. Shah said that 1,182 cadres of tribal groups of Assam have joined the mainstream by laying down arms.

Amit Shah further said that the Ministry of Home Affairs has taken steps to develop the northeast by promoting and developing the rich culture of the region, settling all disputes, establishing peace and accelerating development in the region to make it peaceful and prosperous. He said that due to lack of communication and conflict of interests, different groups took up arms due to which thousands of lives were lost in the encounter between these groups and the state governments and central security forces. The home minister said that the central government has decided that before 2024, all border disputes between the North Eastern states and all disputes related to armed groups will be resolved.

The Union home minister further added that in the last three years, the Government of India, the Government of Assam and other governments of the North East have entered into several agreements among themselves and with various extremist groups.

NLFT agreement in 2019, BRU-REANG and Bodo accord in 2020, Karbi Anglong agreement in 2021 and Assam-Meghalaya Inter-State Boundary Agreement in 2022, which resolved around 65 percent of border disputes between the two states are the examples, said Shah.

Amit Shah also said that the Government of India and Government of Assam will ensure that the terms of the agreement reached with the Adivasi groups of Assam on Thursday are fully complied with. He said that the Government has a record that it has fulfilled 93 percent of the promises made under all the agreements signed so far and as a result, peace has been restored in the entire Northeast region including Assam.

Shah said that as per the agreement signed on Thursday, it is the responsibility of the Government of India and Assam to fulfill the political, economic and educational aspirations of the Adivasi groups. He said that in the agreement, provisions have been made to protect the social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic identity of Adivasi groups as well as to further strengthen them. The agreement also provides for the establishment of a Tribal Welfare and Development Council with a view to ensure speedy and focused development of tea gardens.

Shah added that the agreement also provides for rehabilitation and resettlement of armed cadres and measures for the welfare of tea garden workers. A special development package of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 500 crore each by Government of India and Government of Assam) will be provided over a period of five years for infrastructure development in villages/areas with tribal population.

The agreement provides for setting up of an Adivasi Welfare & Development Council by the Govt of Assam with the objective of fulfilling the political, economic and educational aspirations; protecting, preserving and promoting social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities; and ensuring accelerated and focused development of the Adivasi inhabited villages/ areas as well as tea gardens all over the State. The agreement also provides for rehabilitation and resettlement of armed cadres and measures for welfare of the tea garden workers. (With inputs from PTI)

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