Guwahati: As many as 644 cadres of eight banned outfits surrendered at an event in Guwahati on Thursday in the presence of Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal. They brought along with them sophisticated arms and ammunition.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said, "People are happy that you have returned to the mainstream for the development of Assam. You have inspired all those who believe in democracy.”
He said the youths who had moved towards terrorist and extremist activities must be given an opportunity to come back to the mainstream and rebuild their lives.
“I welcome all members of extremist groups who have laid down their arms today to lead a normal life again and contribute meaningfully to the nation-building process through hard work and dedication. It will inspire members of other militant groups to come back to mainstream life,” he said.
The chief minister further said that building a terrorism-free Assam was one of the main commitments of the present state government.
“Peace is a prerequisite for ushering in development and the former militants must contribute towards ensuring peace and harmony in society”, he said.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s example, Sonowal said people from all sections of society must emulate his dedication towards the objective of making India a strong force at the international stage.
“Following the Central government’s Act-East Policy initiatives, the state government has been able to undertake steps to make Guwahati the gateway to South East Asia and Assam’s farmers have been able to export their produce to the markets of Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Dubai,” Sonowal said.
“The government’s aim is to make Assam free of terrorism, corruption and foreigners. Without peace, the state cannot progress and therefore we want a peaceful state. The surrendered men could take the benefits of the government’s schemes”.
The highest number of 301 militants who surrendered belonged to the National Liberation Front of Bengali (NLFB), followed by 178 from Adivashi Dragon Fighter (ADF) and 87 from the National Santhal Liberation Army (NSLA).
The others who surrendered included 50 cadres of the United Liberation Front of Assam -Independence (ULFA(I), 8 militants of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), 6 insurgents of the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), 13 members of the Rava National Liberation Front (RNLF) and one Communist Party of India (Maoist) militant.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also congratulated Sonowal and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for their tireless effort in ensuring peace in Assam.
Big day for Assam as 644 members of the ULFA(I), NDFB, RNLF, KLO, CPI(M), NSLA, ADF & NLFB surrendered their weapons in Guwahati. I congratulate CM @sarbanandsonwal ji & @himantabiswa ji for their tireless efforts for a peaceful Assam and to realise PM Modi’s vision of #NewIndia.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) January 23, 2020
Besides 177 arms, the militants also laid down 58 magazines, 1.93 kg explosives, 52 grenades, 71 bombs, three rocket launchers, 306 detonators, two RT sets and 17 khukris.
"This is an important day for the state and the Assam Police. Altogether 644 cadres and leaders of eight militant groups laid down their arms. This is one of the largest surrender of militants in recent history," Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta told reporters.
Addressing the former militants, Mahanta said, "Many forces keep trying to hamper peace in Assam, but you overcame that. You may have had anguish over different issues, but you realised that by giving life instead of taking away life is more important for the development of the state."
Inspector General of Police (Special Branch) Hiren Chandra Nath said, the surrendered militants came to a unilateral ceasefire between 2015 and 2019.
"Today they formally laid down arms in an official function in front of the chief minister. These groups are not related to NDFB(S) militants, who declared ceasefire earlier this month," he said.
During the event, Sonowal also felicitated the outgoing GOC 4 Corps Lt Gen Manoj Pandey and welcomed the incoming GOC 4 Corps Lt Gen Shantanu Dayal.