Largest surrender by militants in Northeast

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 16:29

Guwahati: In one of the largest surrender
ceremonies in the Northeast region, 1855 militants belonging
to nine groups on Tuesday bid a farewell to arms before Union Home
Minister P Chidambaram and received roses for weapons turned
in.

Among them were five major ethnic groups of the
Adivashi Santhal outfits operating in upper Assam and three
belonging to the Kukis besides a Hmar group inhabiting Central
Assam.

"Today is a historic day. It is not often that one
witnesses a day when so many groups which had earlier taken to
the path of militancy decide to take the path of peace,
reconciliation and brotherhood," Chidambaram said.

"I want to assure all of you that the governments of
India and Assam will treat you as equal citizens of India with
honour and dignity.

"The Government of India has welcomed the militants
back to the fold. We believe we are a republic and a democracy
where every voice deserves to be heard. Everyone is entitled
to live with honour," said Chidambaram at the function where
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Army GoCs of 3 and 4 Corps,
and Director General of Police Jayant Narayan Chowdhury were
also present.

"All differences can be settled through talks,
consultations, efforts and endeavour. No knot can be left
untied through patience," the home minister said.

The underground groups were Adivashi Peoples Army
(APA), All Adivashi National Liberation Army (AANLA), Santhal
Tiger Force (STF), Birsa Commando Force (BCF), Adivashi Cobra
Military of Assam (ACMA), Kuki Liberation Army (KLA)/Kuki
Liberation Organisation (KLO), Hmar People?s Convention (HPC),
United Kukigam Defence Army (UKDA) and Kuki Revolutionary Army
(KRA).

Already in ceasefire agreement with the government,
the nine groups fighting either for secession or for greater
autonomy submitted charters of demand to the government.

Led by chairmen and `commanders`, the militants
surrendered 201 assorted arms and ammunition.

"Leave the past behind and look at the future
positively. We will reach out to you. You must look forward to
the future with hope, cheer, optimism and love for
brotherhood," Chidambaram said.

"You have many years of useful life, build a family,
build India, contribute to the future of India and Assam.
I welcome you all on behalf of India and wish you a prosperous
life," said the minister.

"In the last few years we have reached out to a large
number of groups proving the vitality of our democracy," he
said.

He also exhorted the surrenderees to remember the
words of Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Sardar
Vallabbhai Patel and that all Indians were one and that India
had a place for all.

Chidambaram said the ULFA and NDFB were participating
in the peace process and negotiations with other militant
groups were nearing conclusion portending well for the
country. "Hope others will also follow."

The chief minister said "You have realised the
futility of continuing with an armed struggle. It is a good
message to the whole country that militancy will not benefit
anybody. Problems can be solved only through the democratic
process," Gogoi said.

Stating that the doors were open for all militants for
talks, Gogoi renewed his appeal to hardliner ULFA `c-in-c`
Paresh Baruah to negotiate for peace.

"I also urge those contemplating to take up arms not
to do so. We will firmly deal with those going against the
interest of the state and country, he said."

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 12:07

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