A tripartite peace accord was signed by the Central and Assam government with five Adivasi militant outfits and three splinter groups of Assam in New Delhi on September 15.
The peace agreement was signed in presence of Union home minister Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the Ministry of Home Affairs in North Block.
Union minister Rameswar Teli, state minister for labour welfare, Sanjoy Kishan, MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, MP Pallab Lochan Das, chief secretary PK Borthakur, principal secretary to CM, Samir Kumar Sinha, principal secretary, Home, Niraj Verma, DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta and ADGP Hiren Nath were also present.
The five rebel groups are Birsa Commando Force (BCF), Adivasi People’s Army (APA), All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) and Santhal Tiger Force (STF) and the remaining three outfits are splinter groups of BCF, AANLA and ACMA.
The Adivasi armed groups have agreed to abjure violence and join the peaceful democratic process as established by law of the land. The peace pact also provides for the rehabilitation of cadres of armed groups.
BCF, APA, AANLA, ACMA and STF have been in a ceasefire with the government since 2016 and since then the cadres of the militant outfits are living in designated camps.
A total of 1,182 cadres of the five militant groups and three factions laid down their arms and returned to the mainstream. 156 arms, 887 ammunition, 21 grenades and 7 IEDs were handed over to the authorities by the militant outfits.
The agreement provides for the setting up of an Adivasi Welfare & Development Council by the Assam government to fulfil the political, economic and educational aspirations; protect, preserve and promote social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities; and ensure 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 re-settlement of armed cadres and measures for the welfare of the tea garden workers. A special development package of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 500 crore each by Centre and state) will be provided over five years for the development of infrastructure in Adivasi-inhabited villages/areas.
On the occasion, the Union home minister said that following 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.
Shah 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 Northeast
Shah said that 1182 cadres of tribal groups of Assam have joined the mainstream by laying down arms.
Shah also said that the MHA 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 Northeast to make it peaceful and prosperous.
The Union minister 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, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has decided that before 2024, all border disputes between the northeastern states and all disputes related to armed groups will be resolved.
He said that in the last three years, the Union government, the Assam government and other governments of the Northeast 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 per cent of border disputes between the two states.
Shah said that the Central and Assam government will ensure that the terms of the agreement reached with the Adivasi groups of Assam are fully complied with.
He said that the government has a record that it has fulfilled 93 per cent of the promises made under all the agreements signed so far and as a result, peace has been restored in the entire Northeast including Assam.
Shah said that as per the agreement, it is the responsibility of the Centre and Assam to fulfil 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 to ensure speedy and focused development of tea gardens.
The Union minister said that since 2014, around 8,000 insurgents have joined the mainstream of society by laying down their arms, expressing their confidence in several steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for peace and prosperity of the Northeast. The year 2020 recorded the lowest number of insurgency incidents in the last two decades. In comparison to 2014, there has been a 74 per cent reduction in the incidents of insurgency in 2021. In the same period, there has been a 60 per cent reduction in the casualties of security forces and 89 per cent in the number of civilian casualties.
The agreement was signed by: Bircha Commando Force (BCF) chairman Durga Hasda, Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) chairman Ashim Hasda, All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) chairman Dipen Nayak, Santhal Tiger Force (STF) chairman Persius Hembrom, All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA-FG) Amrit Beck, Bircha Commando Force (Badal Tudu) chairman Tinku Tudu and Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (FG) general secretary Sinesh Hembrom.