Over 1,000 extremists lay down arms in Assam

Significant aspect is PDCK chief joining the mainstream, say officials

More than 1,000 members of armed extremist groups in Assam laid down their arms before Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday.

The extremists belonged to five organisations — People Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK), Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers, Kuki Liberation Front and United People’s Liberation Army — that were primarily active in the hill district of central Assam’s Karbi Anglong.

The 1,040 members of these groups deposited 338 firearms, police officials said.

“A significant aspect of the arms-laying ceremony is the joining of Ingti Kathar Songbijit, PDCK chief, the mainstream. He was earlier the chief of the National Democratic Front of Boroland, but left the group to form the PDCK,” a senior police officer said.

“Peace is central to development. Together, we will build a stronger Assam,” Mr. Sonowal said.

Officials said members of various extremist groups have surrendered since 2016, bringing down extremism-related violence. A surrender-cum-rehabilitation programme has paid rich dividends, they said.

Prior to Tuesday’s ceremony, 1,515 cadres of different extremist groups received one-time grant of ₹4 lakh while 3,702 have been receiving a monthly stipend of ₹6,000, officials said.

“Under the State government’s Swabalamban [self-reliance] scheme, 1,800 cadre were provided training in various skills and 1,192 of them have received ₹1 lakh each for entrepreneurship in the farm sector,” Hiren Nath, IGP of Assam Police’s Special Branch said.

Official data shows 1,914 extremists were arrested and 70 killed in counter-insurgency operations since 2016.

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