In a significant development, a tripartite peace accord was signed between the Centre, Assam government and five tribal militant outfits and three splinter groups of the state in New Delhi on Thursday, and a special development package of Rs 1,000 crore was announced to implement the accord.
The peace deal was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the Ministry of Home Affairs in North Block.
Shah later said a special development package of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 500 crore each by the Centre and Assam government) will be provided over a period of five years for the development of infrastructure in the tribal inhabited villages and areas of Assam.
The agreement provides for setting up of an Adivasi Welfare and Development Council by the Assam government with the objective of fulfilling the political, economic and educational aspirations; protecting, preserving and promoting social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities etc.
"The signing of the historic tripartite agreement between the Govt of India, the Assam govt and representatives of eight Tribal groups of Assam at North Block, New Delhi. Another milestone towards PM Narendra Modi Ji's vision of a peaceful North East," Shah tweeted.
In another tweet, he said : "A historic agreement between GoI, Govt of Assam and representatives of eight Adivasi groups was signed today in New Delhi to end the decades-old crisis of Adivasis and tea garden workers in Assam."
The tripartite peace accord was inked with five tribal militant groups -- Birsa Commando Force (BCF), Adivasi People's Army (APA), All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) and Santhal Tiger Force (STF).
The remaining three outfits are splinter groups of BCF, AANLA and ACMA.
After the ceasefire pact was agreed in 2016, a total of 1,182 cadres of the five militant groups and three factions laid down their arms and returned to the mainstream. Since then, the cadres of the militant outfits have been staying at designated camps.
They had deposited 156 arms, 887 ammunition, including 21 grenades and 7 IEDs.
According to Assam Home Department officials, the armed groups have agreed to abjure violence and join the peaceful democratic process as established by the law of the land.
As per the peace pact, the government would take suitable steps for the rehabilitation of the surrendered cadres of the armed groups.
Sarma said the signing of the agreement will usher in a new era of peace and harmony in Assam.
Meanwhile, a total of 1,615 cadres of four NDFB factions had laid down their arms on January 30 last year after the signing of the Bodo peace accord with the Central government on January 27, 2020 in New Delhi in the presence of Shah.
(With inputs from IANS)