A total number of 644 terrorists belonging to eight banned extremist outfits surrendered in Assam today, along with 177 firearms. The terrorists of the insurgent groups United Liberation Front Asom, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, Rabha National Liberation Front, Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, CPI (Maoist), National Santhal Liberation Army, Adivasi Dragon Force, and National Liberation Front of Bengalis surrendered in Arms laying down event in presence of Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal and various police officials welcoming the move.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal on Thursday said that the government will arrange re-employment of the 644 extremists who have surrendered today at a mega Arms and Ammunition Lay Down Ceremony held at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital auditorium. Speaking at the event, he said, “the government’s aim is to make Assam free of corruption, terrorism, and foreigners. Without peace, the state cannot progress and therefore we want a peaceful state. The surrendered could take the benefits of the government’s schemes”.
“The government will extend all possible assistance to you. My appeal to you is that wherever you live, you work to create an environment of peace,” the CM added. He praised IGP Hiren Chandra Nath of Assam Police and urged other militants who are still serving the militant groups to surrender.
“This is an important day for the state and the Assam Police. Altogether 644 cadres and leaders of eight militant groups laid down their arms,” Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta told reporters. He said it was one of the largest surrender of militants in recent times.
Among the 644 insurgents who have surrendered, 301 are from Bengali insurgent group National Liberation Front of Bengalis (NLFB), forming the largest group. Among the rest, 50 are from ULFA, 8 from NDFB, 6 from KLO, 87 from NSLA, 13 from RNLF, 178 from ADF and 1 from CPI(Maoist). The Bengali outfit also surrendered larget number of weapons, 75 in total 177, along with 1.93 kg of explosives and 31 grenades. Other groups didn’t deposit any explosive.
Such a large number of insurgents from the Bengali outfit surrendering with such large scale arms and ammunition has raised eyebrows, as it is little known in the region compared to other groups like ULFA and NDFB. According the sources the group was formed in 1990s in lower Assam following some stray incidents of violence on Bengalis but the group had remained dormant for many years.
All of the surrendered militants have returned from various places along with a huge amount of arms and ammunition. Earlier this month, the NDFB signed an agreement with the government promising to abjure the violence and join in peace talks with the government.
A tripartite agreement was signed by representatives of NDFB and the Centre and Assam government. Active members of NDFB including their President B Saoraigwra were brought back from Myanmar on 11 January. Top leaders including ‘Saoraigwra’, it’s general secretary, commander-in-chief, and finance secretary were a part of this group, said an official.
The group carried 25 weapons, more than 50 magazines, more than 900 assorted ammunition and communication equipment. Saoraigwra’s group was active in Myanmar along with the other Northeast insurgent groups.
The demand for a separate state for Bodos has been going on in Assam for about five decades with several Bodo overground and Militant groups raising it leading to several protests, violence, vandalism, and deaths.
A Bodo territorial council under the sixth schedule of the constitution was created in 2003 to meet political, developmental and identity-related aspirations of the Bodos. Agreements were signed in 1993 and 2003 to resolve the vexed issue.