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KLNLF bids adieu to arms

(L) Karbi militant group KLNLF cadres at the arms laying ceremony at Diphu, Assam on Thursday. (R) The deposited arms. (NP)
Correspondent DIPHU (KARBI ANGLONG), FEB 11
Published on 12 Feb. 2010 12:16 AM IST
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Several thousand people from all walks of life in Karbi Anglong witnessed the historic laying down of arms by the Karbi militant outfit- Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) here Thursday in presence of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, Karbi Anglong MP Biren Singh Ingti, senior army, paramilitary and police officers. The laying down of arms comes after another militant outfit in North Cachar Hills, the Black Widow – a breakaway faction of Dima Halim Daogah (DHD) – also surrendered weapons to authorities. The laying down of arms is a precursor to negotiations with the Government of India for bringing about a permanent peace to the troubled districts. Altogether 412 militants, including 27 females, laid down arms and deposited 158 assorted weapons before Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi at a function here. Hailing the outfit’s decision, the chief minister said killings could never solve any problem. “Guns cannot solve any problem nor can they help a group to achieve its goal,” he pointed out. “The KLNLF took up arms to realize its goal vis-à-vis development of Karbi Anglong. But it has now realized that development can come in a democratic way and through negotiations,” Gogoi said. The Assam chief minister said it was owing to such realization that the insurgents in Nagaland entered into peace parleys with the Centre. “Mizoram was once a restive state. But then the insurgents there realized the futility of waging an armed struggle and entered into peace talks with the government,” Gogoi said. KLNLF publicity secretary Rejak Dera said the “Karbi problem” was a political problem and hence, it should be resolved politically. “Union home minister P. Chidambaram has written to us saying that the talks would begin soon. We’re hopeful of a solution of our problem,” Dera added. The KLNLF had earned notoriety for cold blooded killings of Hindi-speaking people but now says such acts will never be repeated. “We have left all these behind us”, Dera said. The message of union home minister, P.Chidambarm was read out as he couldn’t participate in the function. In his message, Chidambaram expressed optimism that the laying down of arms would help in creating a conducive atmosphere for the commencement of tripartite talks. KLNLF, which advocates the independence of Karbi tribe, came into existence as a splinter group of United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS). In May 2002, UPDS entered into peace negotiations with the Centre. The move caused a split in the organization, with those willing to negotiate remained with the UPDS and those opposed to negotiations forming the breakaway KLNLF in May 2004. The KLNLF envisages “emancipation from the oppressive and exploitative system of India.” “We initially started armed struggle to solve our problems, now we want to try to solve them politically,” said Thong Teron, general secretary of the KLNLF. The KLNLF has blamed the government for flooding their areas with outsiders and neglecting the welfare of the indigenous tribals. Teron has warned that if the government ignored their demands, they could take up arms again. Since its formation, the KLNLF had indulged in violent methods as means to reassert its dominance for attainment of its proclaimed goal. It had carried out a number of terror attacks using a variety of tactics and with varying degrees of success. The two common tactics used by the KLNLF were grenade attacks and ambushes on transportation targets. The group has also used economic blockades, kidnapping and arson as part of its objective in waging war against the government. The outfit also targeted rival ethnic groups. Senior officials from union home ministry, army, paramilitary forces and Assam government also attended Thursday’s ceremony.

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