1,615 insurgents lay down arms in Assam

1,615 insurgents lay down arms in Assam on Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary

Four factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) laid down their weapons before Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. (DH Photo)

The curtains came down to the 34-year-long insurgency led by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) with the laying down of weapons by its 1,615 members on Thursday when the world remembered Mahatma Gandhi on his 72nd death anniversary.

Chiefs of the four factions of the insurgent group, Ranjan Daimary, Gobinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B. Saoraigwra handed over their weapons to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function in Guwahati. The programme was organised as part of the "comprehensive" agreement they signed with the government on Monday. 

"This is a significant day in the country's history as members of the NDFB, who had taken up arms to fulfill the aspirations of the Bodo community years ago laid down their arms on the death anniversary of Gandhiji. This has proved that they also want peace and not violence as propagated by the father of the nation. We welcome all of them to the mainstream and the government will do everything for their proper rehabilitation and help them lead a normal life with dignity and pride," Sonowal said.

Sonowal also lauded the efforts by various agencies including the Unified Command structure comprising army, police and paramilitary forces. 

The outfits deposited 178 weapons including AK series rifles, M16, Heckler and Koch rifle, snipers and other weapons and bombs. Members of the outfits had undergone training in Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar and carried out violence before coming overground. 

This comes days after 644 cadres belonging to eight rebel groups in Assam also laid down their weapons and resolved to join the mainstream.

The Bodo agreement decided to rename the Bodoland Territorial Area districts as Bodoland Territorial Region and give more administrative, legislative and financial power under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. It also promised a special package of Rs. 1,550 crore in the next three years for the development of the BTR.

The NDFB had launched the armed movement in 1986 for separate Bodoland. 

President of All Bodo Students' Union, Promod Boro said a fresh revolution began in Bodoland areas from Thursday to establish peace, brotherhood, and development, the principles taught by Gandhiji. "The government must ensure full implementation of the accord for permanent peace, stability, and development in the region. The non-Bodos living in the region should also forget the past conflicts and join hands to reap benefits of the accord," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while welcoming the development said," As India remembers Pujya Bapu on his punya tithi, Assam witnessed a historic chapter for peace and development. After a wait of 50 years, agreement with our Bodo friends heralds a new beginning. It will strengthen Assam's unity, bring development and usher in a bright future."

Appeal to Ulfa group: 

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while calling the step by Bodo groups as historic appealed to Ulfa (Independent), another rebel group to join the dialogue with the government. Ulfa, formed in 1979 is still out of the peace process. When pointed out about Ulfa leader Paresh Baruah's recent statement that it would join the dialogue if its core demand for sovereignty was made an agenda, Sarma said, "His statement has some positive messages too and we are analysing it and will accordingly take up with the Centre."