64 members of 4 militant groups surrender before Assam CM

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(Eds: Updating with details) Guwahati, Dec 21 (PTI) Sixty-four militants, including a top leader of the ULFA (Independent), of four outfits surrendered with arms and ammunition before Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal here on Monday, officials said.

Eighteen members of the ULFA, 32 of the United People's Revolutionary Front, 13 of the Dimasa National Liberation Army and one of the People's Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) surrendered at the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, a cultural institution.

Self-styled Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the ULFA (Independent), Dhristi Rajkhowa, is one of the 64 who formally laid down arms before the chief minister.

The arms and ammunition deposited by them included 14 AK-series rifles, one M-20 semi-automatic rifle, 15 pistols, two 9 mm carbines, one lethod gun and 20 lethod shells, officials said.

Welcoming the surrendered militants to the mainstream of the society, Sonowal asked them to commit themselves now to promoting brotherhood and friendship and contribute to nation building.

The chief minister also urged other militants to shun the path of violence.

The government has taken adequate steps for rehabilitating the members of the insurgent groups who are coming to the mainstream after laying down arms, he said at the programme attended among others by Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah and Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.

Officials said that Rajkhowa was nabbed in an operation launched by the Army and the police of Assam and Meghalaya on November 10 and had surrendered before the Army two days later. He formally laid down arms before the state government during the day.

Besides Rajkhowa, who was also in-charge of the western command of the ULFA(I), other prominent militants to surrender are self-styled Lieutenants Montu Saikia and Sagar Topno of the ULFA, and self-styled Commander in Chief of PDCK, Onn Teron alias Nokbe.

All militants, who have surrendered, will be rehabilitated under schemes of the Centre and the state government, officials said.

Under the revised scheme of the central government for Rehabilitation of NE Militants, each surrendered cadre will get a stipend of Rs 6,000 per month. After three years, they will receive Rs 4 lakh as one time grant, subject to good behaviour.

In addition to this, the state government is launching the 'Swabalamba' scheme for facilitating the rehabilitation of these cadres. Under this scheme, a major project is coming up at Chamuapara in Mangaldoi where a goat breeding farm has been set up with an investment of Rs 80 lakh.

On January 23 this year, 644 militants belonging to ULFA(I), NDFB(S), NLFB and Adivasi outfits surrendered. On January 30, 968 cadres of Myanmar-based NDFB(S) laid down arms and signed the Bodoland Territorial Region Accord with the Centre and Assam government along with other three factions of the NDFB.

Already 11 militant outfits have joined the peace process with the central and the state governments while eight more outfits have expressed the desire to join the mainstream by laying down their arms, officials said. PTI DG NN NN