63 members of 4 militant groups surrender in Assam

63 members of 4 militant groups surrender before Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal

Credit: Twitter/@sarbanandsonwal

At least 63 leaders and cadres of four insurgent groups in Assam laid down their weapons on Monday taking the total number of similar surrenders to 1,675 this year so far.

The militants, including 17 belonging to Ulfa (Independent), 32 of United People's Revolutionary Front, 13 of Dima National Liberation army and "commander-in-chief" of People's Democratic Council of Karbi Longri handed over their weapons to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function at Sankardeb Kalakshetra, a cultural centre in Guwahati.

Ulfa (I), still having its hideouts in Myanmar, is a major rebel group demanding "sovereign Assam" while the three others have remained confined mainly in the hilly Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts in Assam. 

Drishti Rajkhowa, the "deputy commander-in-chief" of Ulfa (I) and his wife, Nila Rabha were among the first who laid down their arms to Sonowal. The duo had surrendered recently. 

"We welcome all who decided to shun the path of violence. We have always tried to spread the message that violence can never solve any problem and we are glad that more and more people who took the path of violence are coming back to the mainstream. The government will help them reap benefits of the development schemes to be self-reliant and be part of the development process," Sonowal said at the function. 

Sonowal also appealed all other militants to come forward for talks and give up the path of insurgency. Security agencies said Ulfa (I) still has over 200 cadres and is constantly trying to woo the unemployed youths into their fold.

Director general of police, Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said the surrender became possible due to constant efforts by Unified Command structure of security, a set up comprising police, army, paramilitary and other intelligence agencies adopted in Assam to counter insurgency.

The surrender made the BJP-led government happy as making Assam insurgency free is one of its major promises made in 2016, when it came to power. 

A statement issued by Assam police headquarters said more than 60 cadres had laid down their weapons in 2018-19. Another 644 cadres of Ulfa (I), NDFB (S), NLFB and Adivasi rebel groups surrendered on January 23 while 968 belonging to all four factions of NDFB did the same in January 30 this year after signing the new Bodo Accord. 

The weapons deposited by the militants on Monday included 14 AK series rifles, one M20 rifle, 15 pistols, two 9mm carbines, among others. 

The surrendered cadres will get a stipend of Rs 6,000 per month for three years and then will be given a one-time financial grant of Rs 4 lakh each under the rehabilitation scheme of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. They will also be enrolled for skill development courses for rehabilitation.