Decks cleared for UPDS accord

Spl Correspondent
NEW DELHI, Dec. 23 – Decks have been cleared for signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Karbi militant outfit United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), with all the three sides today giving their seal of approval to the draft accord.
The contentious issue of demarcation of the boundary of the proposed Karbi Autonomous Territorial Council (KATC) has been amicably resolved with the militant group staging a climb down from its rigid position, in the face of stiff opposition from the State Government.

The deal was clinched after hectic round of tripartite talks on Thursday. Today was the second consecutive day of negotiations.

UPDS has been insisting on restructuring of the existing boundary by including some territories of at least four districts. But the State Government refused to redraw the boundary fearing a massive upheaval ahead of the Assembly polls.

The draft agreement would now be ratified by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which is headed by the Prime Minister and also approved by the State Cabinet. The accord signing ceremony is likely in January.

The UPDS would give the people of Karbi Anglong a New Year gift, a senior office-bearer said, describing the event as historic.

An achievement of sorts for the UPDS is that the State Government has agreed to hand over 65 departments to the proposed territorial council. The haggling over the State government department was one of the reasons for the impasse.

UPDS had sought 66 departments, including the home and Judiciary. Till yesterday, the State Government had agreed to hand over 64, but at the Thursday’s meeting, it agreed to hand over judiciary, leaving out Home Department.

As reported, the existing Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is likely to be rechristened as Karbi Autonomous Territorial Council (KATC) and the proposed territory will be governed by Karbi Anglong Territorial Authority (KATA).

Today’s talks were led by government’s interlocutor PC Haldar and also included Joint Secretary (North-east) Shambhu Singh, while the State Government’s team included top bureaucrat KD Tripathi, Commissioner Home, Jishnu Barua and Additional DG (Special Branch), Khagen Sarma.

The five-member UPDS delegation included general secretary S Bey and joint secretary (political affairs) W Mukrang.

The government has already agreed to grant amnesty to UPDS leaders and cadres though it has refused to dilute the role of the Council of Ministers (CoMs), said sources.

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