New Delhi: In another push for peace in the Northeast, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Thursday signed a peace agreement with tribal militant groups in Assam “to end decades old crisis of adivasis and tea garden workers by rehabilitating them and ensuring focussed development”, an MHA spokesperson told ThePrint.
After the latest agreement, 1,182 cadres of these tribal outfits joined the mainstream by laying down their arms, the MHA spokesperson said.
The tripartite agreement was signed by officials of the Central and Assam governments and the representatives of eight outfits in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.
Among the signatories were Birsa Commando Force chairman Durga Hasda, Adivasi Cobra Militants of Assam chairman Ashim Hasda, All Adivasi National Liberation Army chairman Dipen Nayak, Adivasi People’s Army chairman Mandal Hasda, Santhal Tiger Force chairman Perseius Hembrom, BCF (BT) chairman Amrit Beck, and ACMA (FG) general secretary Sinesh Hembrom.
In a statement, the MHA said the agreement will prove to be another important milestone in the direction of making the Northeast free of extremism by 2025.
“Around 8,000 militants have joined the mainstream of society by laying down their arms since 2014. The Central Government has decided that before 2024, border disputes between the states of the North East and all disputes related to armed groups will be resolved,” the statement said.
“The government has fulfilled 93 per cent of all the agreements signed so far, resulting in the restoration of peace in the entire North East including Assam. In today’s agreement, provisions have been made to protect and strengthen the social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic identity of Adivasi groups,” it added.
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‘Adivasi welfare & development’
According to an MHA official, the agreement also provides for the establishment of an adivasi welfare and development council to ensure speedy and focused development of tea gardens and measures for rehabilitation and resettlement of armed cadres and welfare of tea garden workers.
“A special development package of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 500 crore each by governments of India and Assam) will be provided over a period of five years for infrastructure development in villages/areas with adivasi population,” Shah said in a statement released by the MHA.
The agreement provides for setting up of an Adivasi Welfare and Development Council by the Govt. of Assam with the objective of fulfilling the political, economic and educational aspirations; protecting, preserving and promoting social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities. pic.twitter.com/v63X3Cyil0
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 15, 2022
The Union home minister said that MHA has taken steps to develop the Northeast by promoting and developing the rich culture of the region, settling all disputes, establishing peace and accelerating development to make it peaceful and prosperous.
Due to a lack of communication and conflict of interests, he said, different groups took up arms due to which thousands of lives were lost in the encounter between these groups and the state governments and central forces.
Shah also said that in the last three years, the Centre and governments of the Northeast states have entered into several agreements among themselves and with various extremist groups.
The agreements include the NLFT (National Liberation Front of Twipra) agreement in 2019, the Bodo accord in 2020, the Karbi Anglong agreement in 2021 and the Assam-Meghalaya Inter-State Boundary Agreement in 2022.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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