Guwahati, 19 Dec : The insurgent United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) of central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, the Centre and the Assam government are inching towards inking a peace accord. The three sides are expected to freeze the settlement formula when the militant outfit holds the crucial next round of formal peace talks with Centre’s interlocutor P.C. Haldar in Delhi on December 22. The frozen settlement formula will form the basis of the peace accord to be signed to pave the way for UPDS to lay down arms and return to the mainstream, to usher in permanent peace in the hill district. A few hours before they left for Delhi, on Saturday, for the next round of peace talks, the UPDS general secretary Haren Sing Bey, joint secretary (political affairs) Wojaru Mukrang and joint secretary (home affairs) Surjya Rongphar told The Hindu here that they hope to freeze the settlement formula which the three sides have already agreed on. The three-member UPDS negotiating team will be assisted by Karbi intellectuals Elvin Teron and Dharam Sing Teron in the next round of peace talks.
Some key points which they have agreed on are: the present Karbi Anglong district to be replaced with a new territorial entity to be known as Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territory (KAAT) under the amended provisions of Sixth Schedule. The proposed territory shall have three revenue and administrative districts — East Karbi Anglong, Central Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong with headquarters at Koilamati, Singhason and Hamren respectively. The proposed territory will be governed by Karbi Anglong Territorial Authority (KATA). The KATA shall have 50 seats of which 45 will be reserved for Scheduled Tribes, five will be open, and five seats will be filled through nominations.
Mr. Mukrang said the insurgent outfit agreed to freeze the settlement formula on three conditions. Firstly, the demand for statehood to be pressed in a democratic and peaceful manner; secondly whenever the State Re-organization Commission (SRC) or any commission to examine the Statehood demands of various organisations is constituted by the Government of India, the Karbi Anglong demand for statehood shall also be included as one of the terms of reference; the third condition is that immediately after concluding this settlement, the present Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) shall be dissolved to make way for the UPDS to lay down arms and whose nominees shall form an interim body to manage and supervise a substantive re-organisation of the KATA within the framework of the amended Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Mr. Teron said the armed struggle of the UPDS is rooted in democratic mass movements by Karbi people for statehood and therefore peace parleys between UPDS and the government have massive public support of all communities of Karbi Anglong. In January 2010, the Peoples’ Alliance for Peace Agreement (PAPA) was formed by 56 front organisations of political parties, students, women, cultural and political formations.
To pressurise government
Mr. Teron, who is also the general secretary of PAPA, said this umbrella body representing all communities has been mobilising popular opinion across Karbi Anglong by holding massive public rallies to put pressure on the government for an early, acceptable and honourable peace accord. The UPDS was formed in 1999 in a merger of the erstwhile Karbi People’s Front (KPF) and Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) formed in 1994. The UPDS entered into a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2002 and holding negotiations with the government since then.