All four factions of insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) said on Thursday that they were promised amnesty under the agreement signed with the government on Monday, a move vehemently opposed by a forum of 5,000-odd terror victim families.
The groups were held guilty of carrying out some of the deadliest terror attacks in Assam including 2008 serial bomb blasts in Guwahati and a few other places that killed nearly 88 people and the massacre of 84 Adivasis in 2014.
"Actually in every accord general amnesty is given and home minister Amit Shah already spoke about giving amnesty to us too. So we believe and want that the cases filed against our members are withdrawn as a whole," president of NDFB (S), B. Saoraigwra told DH, minutes before laying down weapons before Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal here.
In May last year, some cadres of the NDFB (S), which came overground recently, were convicted by an NIA court on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy in the Adivasi killing cases in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Sonitpur districts. The massacre even prompted the Centre to launch an all-out operation.
Similarly, founder of NDFB, who heads NDFB (R), Ranjan Daimary and 14 others were convicted by a CBI court here on January 30 last year for the serial blasts. Daimary and nine others were sentenced to life imprisonment. He was, however, granted interim bail by Gauhati high court on January 25 and released a day after for signing the accord in New Delhi.
They were convicted under section120B (criminal conspiracy punishable with death, 302 (murder), 324, 326 (hurting with dangerous weapon), 435,436 (mischief by fire or explosives) of IPC, besides sections of Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Unlawful Activities (P) Act, 1967.
"This is a historic day for us. The government has assured us that the agreement will be implemented in letter and spirit," Daimary told DH on Thursday when 1,615 NDFB cadres laid down their arms.
The accord said the government would support the NDFB members in proper rehabilitation and those not having heinous cases could be considered for recruitment in army, paramilitary forces and in police.
The publicity secretary of Terror Victim Family Forum, Assam, Indranil Kalita said they were dismayed the way the accord neglected the pleas for justice by the victim families. "This sends a wrong message to the society that nothing happens to those who kills the innocent people. We are not against the accord but the serious cases should not be withdrawn--be it against NDFB, Ulfa or any other militant group," he said.
Hagrama Mohilary, chief of Bodoland Territorial Council also asked the government to withdraw the cases. Mohilary had surrendered similarly as chief of Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), another rebel group and signed an accord in 2003. Cases against BLT were withdrawn.