Assam is set to witness yet another accord with militant outfits from the state to be signed in New Delhi on Saturday. The six outfits from undivided Karbi Anglong district are holding talks with home ministry officials to thrash out the clauses of the agreement.
The tripartite agreement will be signed among the Centre, Assam government and the six groups, Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK), three factions of Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT) and United People's Liberation Army (UPLA).
“We are holding the final review meeting with home ministry officials,” KLNLF publicity secretary Rajek Dera told the Outlook. “The meeting will go on tomorrow (Saturday) too and the agreement will be signed in the evening,” he said.
Over 150 members from the six outfits reached the national capital on Thursday. “There are 30 members from the KLNLF,” Dera said adding the outfit has 412 members.
Among the key demands are direct funding for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, reservation of seats for ST, more powers to the council, inclusion of Karbi language in the Eighth Schedule, more MP/MLA seats.
“We are expecting a Rs 1500-crore package for the development of Karbi Anglong,” Dera said. A Sainik school, veterinary and agriculture university, central university and an airport in the district also figure in the wish list.
“Let us see what the final accord is going to be, but we are hopeful of a positive outcome,” he said.
Over a thousand militants from these groups had laid down arms in February this year. The agreement was slated for signing earlier but had fallen through.
Saturday’s peace accord will be the second after the one with Bodo groups last year. This is expected to restore peace in Karbi Anglong which has suffered militancy since the nineties.
Two outfits , Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People’s Force (KPF) were formed – in 1996 adding their voice to the demand for separate state. However, the two merged in 1999 to form the United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS).
The UPDS subsequently entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Centre . Soon enough, a group opposed to talks emerged as Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front in 2004. The KLNLF too smoked the peace pipe with the government only for Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT) to be born which also got fragmented.
However, several non-tribal groups from undivided Karbi Anglong district had moved the Centre earlier asking that their rights be ensured as and when any accord is signed. Non-tribals constitute over 60 per cent of the 10-lakh population.
The Naga Students’ Federation and the NSCN (IM) too have expressed reservations. While the NSF said the Naga people residing in the district were not consulted, the NSCN (I-M) said the interests of Rengma Nagas must be protected. According to it, the area was declared as Rengma Naga Hills in 1841 under the British rule.
“The Karbis who are immigrants from different places like Sivasagar, Nagaon, Cachar, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, Silchar and Khasi and Jaintia Hills during the British rule cannot claim themselves the status of original inhabitants,” an NSCN (I-M) statement said.