Express News Service
GUWAHATI: The Centre on Saturday signed a peace accord with five armed groups based in Assam’s Karbi Anglong.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and top leaders of the five outfits, which joined the mainstream last year after laying down weapons.
Shah as well as Sarma described the day as “historic”. “… Modi government is committed to resolving the decades-old crisis, ensuring the territorial integrity of Assam,” the Home Minister tweeted.
Stating that peace is returning to Karbi Anglong after a long time, he said at the agreement-signing programme that since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, he (Modi) started working for peace, progress and development of the Northeast.
“I have closely followed his efforts, as the BJP president and the Home Minister. September 4 will be written in golden letters in the history of Assam and Karbi Anglong. One thousand members of five armed groups have laid down weapons and joined the mainstream,” Shah said.
The signing of Karbi-Anglong Agreement is another milestone in PM @narendramodi ji’s vision of “Insurgency free Prosperous North East”.Over 1000 armed cadres have abjured violence and joined the mainstream of society, which reflects their trust in PM Modi ji’s leadership. pic.twitter.com/AKK7iosquQ
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 4, 2021
He said the Assam government and the Centre were fully committed to the rehabilitation of the members of these groups.
“I commit to the leaders of the five Karbi groups and CM Himanta that we will fulfill all clauses of the agreement within the time that we have set. I have already discussed the issue of rehabilitation with the CM,” Shah said, pointing out that nearly 80% of the clauses of the agreements, signed with displaced Brus, erstwhile insurgent group National Liberation Front of Tripura and Bodos earlier, had been implemented.
The Assam CM assured that the state government would implement all the clauses of the pact. He said it would set up a committee to study the demand for notifying Karbi language as an associate language in the state.
“Vast areas of Northeast come under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution but there is no system of reservation. For the first time, the Karbis and the Scheduled Tribe people will get reservations in (autonomous) Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC),” he said.
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According to some key points of the “Memorandum of Settlement”, a committee shall assess the rehabilitation needs of the members of the armed groups based on age profile, educational qualification, the general area of residence, etc.
The criminal cases registered against them for non-heinous offences will be withdrawn as per the procedure established by law. The cases registered will be reviewed on a case to case basis according to the existing policy on the subject.
The Assam government will provide financial compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the next of kin of persons who died in agitations related to the Autonomous State demand and have not yet been compensated.
The Centre may allocate Rs 500 crore (Rs 100 crore per annum) for the development of infrastructure in the KAAC area. Additionally, it will contribute Rs 500 crore (Rs 100 crore per annum) to the development of the area.
The government will ensure greater devolution of autonomy to KAAC. It will also ensure the protection of identity, language, culture, etc of the Karbi people, rehabilitate the members of the armed groups and work for the focussed development of the KAAC area without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam.
The Centre may expedite passage of the Constitution (125 Amendment) Bill, 2019 which proposes to rename KAAC as Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and increase the number of members to not more than 50, of whom, six members, including at least two women members, will be nominated by the Governor. The rest of the members will be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.
The KAAC has 44 seats and the Central and Assam governments will take the necessary steps to reserve 34 of them for STs and 10 seats under the open category for all communities.
The two governments may consider enhancing budgetary provisions for KAAC to undertake development activities keeping in view the population and topography of the area.
District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of the districts within KAAC will be posted in consultation with the Chief Executive Member of KAAC. The Assam government shall create a post of Deputy Inspector General of Police, exclusively for the hill districts.
The Government of India will examine the demand for notifying Karbis living outside the KAAC area as ST in Assam. Similarly, the Assam government may consider conferring ST (Hill) status to Karbis living outside the KAAC area. It shall set up a Karbi Welfare Council for focussed development of Karbis living outside the KAAC area.
The five armed groups are Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri, United People’s Liberation Army, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers and Kuki Liberation Front.