By- Staff Reporter | Date- January 25, 2012
In a significant move towards peace in insurgency ravaged India’s Northeastern state of Assam, as many as nine Insurgent groups with 668 Cadres laid down arms in Guwahati on January 24, two days before Republic Day celebrations. They laid down their arms at a function held on Tuesday at the Sarusajai Indoor Stadium in Guwahati in the presence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Around 203 arms including sophisticated ones such as M16, AK series rifles, grenades were surrendered at the function. The Home Minister welcomed these militants into the mainstream with roses.
The nine rebel groups to lay down arms on January 24 were All Adivasi National Liberation Army, Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam, Birsa Commando Force, Santhal Tigers’ Forum, Adivasi People’s Army, Kuki Liberation Army, Kuki Revolutionary Army, United Kukigram Defence Army (UKDA) and Hmar People’s Convention.
Union Home Minister Chidambaram said, -“Today is a historic day. It is not often that one witnesses a day when so many groups which had earlier taken to the path of militancy decide to take the path of peace, reconciliation and brotherhood. He also assured that all the outfits who have laid down their arms that day would be treated with honour and dignity and that the governments of India and Assam settle all differences through talks, consultations, efforts and endeavor. He also went on to state that the peace talks with the pro-talk faction of the ULFA are making good progress while the talks with the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) is in the final stage”.
On the other hand, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi welcomed the surrender of militants and danced with members of these outfits in a cultural ceremony which followed. He also appealed to the hardliner ULFA faction led by Paresh Baruah to join the ongoing peace process.
Militants who surrendered threatens to go back to Armed Struggle:
Speaking to media, almost all the outfits stated that they have come forward to surrender with a trust on the Government and that now the onus lied on the Government to prove their words and to provide the rights for which they has been fighting for.
Peter Dang, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) said, – Our main demand is granting ST status to Adivasis and it should be fulfilled soon as it is a genuine demand. We have not laid down all our arms and if talks with the government fail, we may go back to the jungle, – he almost threatened.
Similarly, Uday Kumar Kisku the Commander-in-Chief of Adivasi People’s Army (APA), demanding ST status for the Adivasis and for setting up of an Adivasi Territorial Council in Assam stated,- If the government continues to ignore our demands, we will be compelled to resume our armed struggle again.
It is to be mentioned that some of the surrendered militants were found to be minors of age group 13-14. Some of them had no clue for what reason they have been fighting for so long, when questioned by media personnel.