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    Posted on 14 December 2011

    After 12 years of insurgency, Karbi outfit lays down arms

    UPDS to contest the upcoming Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council elections

    Sushanta Roy
    Diphu (Assam)

    UPDS has surrendered its arms as part of the tripartite peace accord signed by the Karbi ethnic militant outfit, the Centre and the state government in New Delhi in November

    The United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) raised hopes for an end to the 12-year-long insurgency in Assam’s restive Karbi Anglong district as 568 members of the banned rebel outfit laid down arms before the state government on Wednesday. The surrender was part of the tripartite peace accord signed by the Karbi ethnic militant outfit, the Centre and the state government in New Delhi in November.

    The rebels deposited a huge cache of weapons and explosives in the presence of Sankar Barua, the Director General of Assam Police, at Karbi Anglong Sports Association stadium at Diphu, district headquarters of Karbi Anglong in central Assam. Lieutenant General Shakti Gurung, GOC 4 Corps, Additional Deputy General of Assam Police Khagen Sharma and other high-ranking officers of paramilitary and the armed forces were also present.

    The huge caches of arms and ammunition included 85 AK series rifles, five M-16s, nine 40 mm under barrel grenade launchers, three self-loading rifles, five Sterling Carbines, eight .303 rifles, 18.9 mm pistols, four .32 pistols, two .38 pistols, two US Carbines, 11 hand grenades, 322 magazines and 18,740 rounds of ammunition.

    Longsodar Senar, the Chairman of UPDS, began the ceremony by handing over an AK series rifle to Barua. Subsequently, Horen Bey, the General Secretary, leader V Mukrang, K Tisso, the commander-in-chief along with other top leaders laid down their weapons. After the retreat of UPDS ensign, the National tricolour was held high by four cadres of the organisation as a mark of UPDS’ allegiance to the Constitution.

    “This is a historic moment with UPDS joining mainstream society. We hope this peace endeavor will result in lasting peace in the region,” Barua said promising to take measures to bring other insurgent groups to mainstream society. Other insurgent groups were willing to negotiate with the government, which was a welcome sign, he added.

    Sharma, who was most instrumental in persuading UPDS to join the peace process, said, “This is a historical day for the people of Karbi Anglong, security forces involved in counter-insurgency and UPDS. Many small and large insurgent groups operate in Karbi Anglong. But it is very encouraging to see a major insurgent group like Karbi Longri National Liberation Front joining the peace process. It is expected that Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers will follow UPDS footsteps soon. Now, the Nunisa and Jewel factions of Dima Halim Daogah are also in the process of joining peace dialogue. Even smaller outfits like several Kuki and five Adivasi militant groups have shunned violence and are ready to talk with the Union and state governments.

    “We hope that the Central government responds actively to our peace overtures,” said one UPDS member after surrendering his M-16. UPDS has decided to contest the upcoming Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council elections.

    Immediately after the ceremony ended, the venue was occupied by UPDS members and its political allies with jubilant cadres mingling with commoners. Finally, everyone danced to the tune of a revolutionary song composed by eminent lyrist Chandra Kt. Terang.

    UPDS militants—active in Karbi Anglong—had unleashed a wave of killings, sabotage of rail tracks, ambush, kidnappings and strikes in their fight for an autonomous land entirely for the indigenous people of the region. In 2002, UPDS, in response to the Centre’s call for peace, joined the dialogue process. UPDS was formed in 1999 after the merger of two insurgent outfits—Karbi People’s Front and Karbi National Volunteers.

    Sushanta Roy is a freelancer based in Diphu, Assam.

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    Posted on 14 December 2011



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