The Centre signed a tripartite ‘Karbi Peace Accord’ with Assam government, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Karbi outfits, and announced a ₹1,000-crore package for development of the region and rehabilitation of former rebels.
The accord is expected to mark an end to years of armed insurgency by various factions and splinter groups of Karbi – a major ethnic community of Assam –marked by killings, ethnic violence, abductions and taxation since the late1980s.
“Today, around 1,000 cadres of more than five organisations have joined the mainstream, shunning arms,” home minister Amit Shah said. “Central and Assam governments are fully committed to their rehabilitation,” he said.
Shah said the Karbi Agreement is another milestone in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “insurgency-free prosperous North East”. “It is the policy of the Modi government that those who give up arms are brought into the mainstream and we talk to them even more politely and give them more than they ask for,” Shah said.
He said the government has met more than 80% of the conditions of peace agreements with various ethnic groups in the Northeast, “be it Bodoland, Bru agreement or NLFT (National Liberation Front of Tripura) agreement”.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Only unresolved issues are related to language. People from Karbi Anglong want their language to be recognised and declared as an associate language in Assam. We have sought six months’ time and will discuss the issue in an environment of dialogue and consultations. The accord will help people from the hills and those staying in plains to get reservations, for the first time.”
As per the accord, the number of seats in the autonomous council is being increased from 30 to 50. Sarma said 34 seats will be reserved for scheduled tribes while six members in the council will be nominated by the governor.
The memorandum of settlement will ensure greater devolution of autonomy to KAAC, protection of identity, language, culture, etc. of Karbi people and focused development of the council area, without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam, he said.