Karbi outfit KLNLF to lay down arms today

KLNLF general secretary Thong Teron (right) and Karbi Anglong SP K.K. Sarma at a designated camp on Tuesday before the surrender ceremony at Diphu. (PTI)

Nagaon, Feb. 10: Curtains will come down on the 17-year-long armed movement for a separate homeland with the Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) set for a formal surrender tomorrow at Diphu, the headquarters of Karbi Anglong district.

The surrender by the KLNLF will also signal the end of armed movements by groups representing the majority communities in the long-disturbed twin hill districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.

The issue of a separate Karbi homeland (Hemprak Kanthim) under Article 3 of the Constitution will form the main issue during talks with the government.

Preparations for the mass surrender began on Sunday with 403 KLNLF cadres walking into the designated camp set up at Diphu Polytechnic.

Another nine militants, including the outfit’s publicity secretary Rejek Dera, reached the camp on Monday.

“We are now hoping for a fruitful political dialogue on the Hemprak Kanthim issue. Both New Delhi and Dispur promised to seriously consider the demand of the Karbis and it was only because of the assurance that we agreed to come forward for a negotiated settlement. If the political machinery and government system sincerely fulfil our peoples’ demands, there will be peace, development and prosperity for all,” Dera told this correspondent over phone.

The KLNLF had declared unilateral ceasefire in January 2009 and then extended it periodically.

“Like the rest of the people of Karbi Anglong, we, too, want peace and development in the greater interest of all,” Dera said.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and senior civil and police officials will be present at the surrender ceremony, slated for 11am.

Several hundred people from different parts of Karbi Anglong today thronged the Diphu playground to witness the KLNLF cadres rehearsing for the ceremony.

Armed struggle in the hill district started with the formation of the Karbi National Volunteers, led by Harsing Timung, in 1993. Another group, Karbi People’s Front, was floated thereafter.

In 1997, the two organisations merged and was renamed United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS). In 2001, it split again as a faction led by Harsing refused to enter a ceasefire and floated the KLNLF.

Harsing and commander-in-chief Willingson Timung were killed in 2005.

The NC Hills, on the other hand, sniffed peace after a long spell of insurgency when the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) laid down arms on October 2 last year.

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