Five terrorist groups representing Assam’s Karbi tribe today signed a tripartite agreement with the Center and the state government, raising hopes of a return to peace after decades of violence. The “historic” Karbi Anglong peace accord involves the laying down of arms by community and government members who will spend up to Rs 1,000 crore on development over the next five years.
The accord was signed in New Delhi by the Karbi Longri People’s Democratic Council, Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front, Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger, Kuki Liberation Front and the United Peoples Liberation Army, with representatives from the Center and the state government.
The deal was signed in the presence of Home Secretary Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his predecessor Sarbananda Sonowal.
“It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to welcome those who leave weapons behind to be inducted into the mainstream and give them more benefits than they ask to encourage them to work for the betterment of their region,” Shah said. .
“Under the agreement, Rs 1,000 crore in five Rs 200 crore installments will be allocated through the Assam budget over the next five years, as well as discussing Karbi Kalyan Parishad and a consolidated fund for the KAAC through the state.”
KAAC, or the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, is an autonomous district council, protected under the sixth scheme of the Indian Constitution.
The Karbi tribe are mostly residents of two Assam districts – Karbi Anglong and Karbi Anglong West. For decades they have demanded a separate state for themselves. An armed uprising for this purpose began in the region sometime in the 1990s.
After the deal was signed, the Union’s interior minister said that in the run-up to the deal, at least 1,000 former members of these organizations had laid down their arms to be absorbed into the mainstream.
The former terrorists surrendered 338 weapons, including eight light machine guns with 11,203 bullets, 11 M-16 rifles and 58 AK-47 rifles, ANI reported.
The surrender took place a year after the Bodo Accord, first signed in 2003, was extended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government last January, according to the ANI report.
Elaborating on the accord, Mr Shah said at least 32 new projects worth Rs 325 crore had been allocated to the KAAC, in addition to a Rs 22 crore infrastructure development project. Soon, according to him, 20 projects worth at least Rs 200 crore will also be implemented.
“This accord also paves the way for the incorporation of both the plain and the Karbi people on the hill to be included as registered tribes of the country,” said Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Former Chief Minister Sonowal thanked Mr Shah and congratulated the KAAC and said the agreement will bring “lasting peace and prosperity to the country”.