On Saturday, a tripartite deal was reached between five Assam rebel groups, the Centre, and the state administration, halting years of bloodshed in the Karbi Anglong region. The Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK), the United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA), and the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT) are among the rebel organisations who signed the peace agreement, according to the Hindu. Their origins can be traced back to the desire to create their own state. As an autonomous district council protected as per the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is a council that also serves the city of Karbi Anglong.
After the formation of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in the late 1990s, the Karbi National Volunteers and the Karbi People’s Force merged. After UPDS laid down its arms in November 2011, the Centre and the government of Assam signed a three-party settlement, granting the KAAC greater autonomy and special concessions. Horen Sing Bey, a former UPDS general secretary, now represents the Autonomous District Lok Sabha constituency for the BJP.
The agreement is noteworthy, states the Livemint, as Assam has been the scene of insurgencies by the Karbis, one of the largest ethnic communities of the state. The community has been characterised by massacres, ethnic violence, abductions, and attacks since the late 1980s. More than 1,000 armed cadres have renounced violence and joined the mainstream as a result of the peace agreement. There were a total of 338 weapons submitted by them, including eight light machine guns containing 11,203 bullets, eleven M-16 rifles, and 58 AK-47 rifles. Their rehabilitation has been outlined in the recent agreement.
Nityananda Rai, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, and Sarbananda Sonowal, the former chief minister of Assam, attended the signing ceremony. The KLNLF, the PDCK, the UPLA, the KPLT, Assam Chief Minister Tuliram Ronghang, and other high-ranking government officials were also in attendance.
According to Times Now, former militant Ingti Kathar Songbijit had earlier laid down his arms, along with 1,039 others belonging to five organisations, before the then chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, and returned to mainstream politics. The PDCK is led by Songbijit, who is its chief. The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, an illegal organisation, had previously appointed him as its commander-in-chief. As a member of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts, he has been implicated in many instances involving killings, primarily of individuals from minority populations. As a result of the Ranjan Daimary faction of the NDFB ceasing activities, Songbijit was pushed to the sidelines, following which, he found the PDCK in Karbi Anglong.
In the next five years, the Assam government will get a special development package of ₹1,000 crores from the Centre, which will be used to fund particular initiatives for the development of Karbi regions. A memorandum of understanding between the government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) will ensure greater autonomy for the Karbi people, protection of their language, culture, and identity, and focused development of the council area, according to government officials.
As per the agreement, the Assam government will establish a Karbi Welfare Council to focus on the development of the Karbi people residing beyond the KAAC region under Assam’s jurisdiction. There will be an increase in the state’s Consolidated Fund in order to enhance the KAAC’s resources. The document states, “The current settlement intends to grant KAAC additional statutory, executive, administrative and financial authorities.”
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The Karbi Anglong Accord, according to Home Minister Amit Shah, will lead to greater peace and prosperity in Assam. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attention has always been focused on the northeast, and that the government’s main goal has always been the region’s overall development. The administration will adhere to all agreement provisions inked during its time, according to Shah’s assurances to the stakeholders.
According to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the state administration is open to the idea of declaring Karbi as the official language of the KAAC, while English, Hindi, and Assamese are utilised for formal reasons. The hill tribes will be granted reservations under the terms of the deal.