'Most wanted' in 2014 Assam Adivasi massacre surrenders

'Most wanted' in 2014 Adivasi massacre, IK Songbijit surrenders in Assam ahead of Assembly elections

He was among 1,000 militants from five groups to surrender and lay down their weapons

Photo for Assam militant surrender copy: IK Songbijit, "most wanted" militant in 2014 Adivasi massacre case surrender before Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati on Tuesday. Credit: DH Photo

A total of 1,040 members of five militant groups including IK Songbijit, who was earlier declared "most wanted" for his alleged involvement in the killing of 87 Adivasis in 2014, laid down their weapons on Tuesday.

Songbijit, chairman of People's Democratic Council Karbi Longri (PDCK), a militant group with roots in central Assam's Karbi Anglong district deposited his weapon before Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and exchanged traditional towels and sought benefits under the Centre's new scheme for rehabilitation of former militants. They will be provided Rs 6,000 per month for three years and one-time assistance of Rs 4 lakh as a rehabilitation package under the scheme.

Before forming PDCK, Songbijit had headed the NDFB (Songbijit), a militant group, which was held responsible for killings of more than 200 people including 87 Adivasis in December 2014 and 49 Muslims in May that year since its formation in 2012.

The victims of the attack by NDFB(S) included a Class IX Bodo girl and a young Additional Superintendent of Police, Gulzar Hussain.

The killings of the Adivasis in 2014 had prompted the then Inion Home Minister Rajnath Singh to order an "all-out operation" against the outfit. This resulted in the killings and arrest of several members of the group before Songbijit left it and formed PDCK.

NDFB(S), however, also surrendered in January last year and the group was disbanded along with three other factions of the NDFB.

Assam Police had declared Songbijit as "most wanted" in 2015 and announced a reward for information leading to his arrest. Sources told DH that Songbijit had recently fled his Myanmar-based camp and reached Assam through the Indo-Myanmar border in Nagaland after talks with Indian security agencies for his surrender. Sources said he also requested the government for withdrawal of all cases registered against him and his group.

Welcoming the rebels, Sonowal said the government would provide all assistance for their rehabilitation. "The surrender is another step forward towards our government's promise to make Assam insurgency free," he said.

Those who formally surrendered with weapons before Sonowal on Tuesday included top leaders of PDCK, Karbi Longri National Liberation Front (KLNLF), Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (KPLT), United People's Liberation Army (UPLA) and Karbi Liberation Front (KLF). The militants laid down weapons that included 58 AK-47 rifles, 11 M-16 rifles, 8 LMGs, besides others.

A statement issued by Assam Police on Tuesday evening said 1,914 cadres of various militant groups have been arrested and 70 killed during counter-insurgency operation since 2016 when the BJP-led government came into power in Assam. Over 1,600 other militants surrendered similarly following the operation.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox