Aim is conciliation with all armed groups in northeast: Amit Shah


Centre, Assam and eight armed Adivasi groups of Assam sign tripartite memorandum of settlement

Centre, Assam and eight armed Adivasi groups of Assam sign tripartite memorandum of settlement

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday that it was the government’s aim to resolve inter-boundary disputes in the northeast and strike a conciliation with all armed insurgent groups in the region before 2024.

Mr. Shah was speaking at the signing of a tripartite memorandum of settlement between the Government of India, the Assam government and eight armed Adivasi groups of Assam.

He said that in the past three years, many agreements had been signed with the armed groups and 93% pacts had been implemented on the ground.

At the signing of the settlement on Thursday, Mr. Shah said care had been taken to preserve the ethnic, cultural, and economic identity of the tribal groups.

He said the number of insurgency-related incidents in the northeast had decreased from 824 in 2014 to 158. The number of civilian killings in the region had declined from 212 in 2014 to six, and the number of security forces killed during the same period had reduced to two from 20 earlier. More than 10,000 cadres had surrendered and joined the mainstream after 2014 and more than 7,000 weapons had been surrendered. Mr. Shah said it was the aim of the government to make the northeast “terrorism-free.”

Disturbed areas

The Home Minister said that because of the improvement in the security situation, the disturbed areas under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) had been reduced from a large part of the northeast.

“About 60% of Assam is now free from the AFSPA. In Manipur, 15 police stations in six districts were taken out of the periphery of the disturbed area. In Arunachal Pradesh, the AFSPA remains in only three districts and two police stations in one district. In Nagaland, the disturbed area notification was removed from 15 police stations in seven districts and in Tripura and Meghalaya, the AFSPA was withdrawn completely,” the Minister said.

The Home Ministry said that as per the agreement, the eight tribal groups had consented to abandon armed group violence, to follow the rule of law established by the Constitution and join the peaceful democratic process.

Major provisions

Mr. Shah said the major provisions of the agreement included fulfilling political, economic, and educational aspirations and protecting, preserving, and promoting social, cultural, linguistic, and ethnic identities. He said an Adivasi Welfare and Development Council would be established by the Government of Assam and necessary measures would be taken for the rehabilitation of cadres of armed groups and for the welfare of tea garden workers.

A special development package of ₹1,000 crore would be provided over a period of five years for infrastructure development in Adivasi-populated villages and areas.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said many tribal men had picked up arms to fight for their rights. “In 2016, a ceasefire was signed with the Central government, but a permanent solution could not be reached. Through this agreement they will get social and political rights. In all 1,182 armed cadres have surrendered,” Mr. Sarma said.

The armed groups are the Adivasi National Liberation Army, the Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam, the Birsa Commando Force, the Santhal Tiger Force, and the Adivasi People’s Army.

Mr. Shah chaired another meeting with Mr. Sarma and Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu to review the resolution of inter-State boundary dispute. He urged both the Chief Ministers to resolve the boundary dispute at the earliest and assured them of maximum possible assistance from the Centre, a senior official said.

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