From guns to roses, life for close to 700 militants from nine separatist groups in Assam turned full circle on Tuesday when they laid down arms to join the mainstream in the presence of Union home minister P Chidambaram.
In one of northeast India’s biggest surrender ceremonies in Assam’s main city of Guwahati, a total of 676 militants laid down weapons and in return received roses from the home minister.
“Leave the past behind and look at the future positively. We assure that each one of you would be treated equally and be able to lead a life of dignity and honour,” Chidambaram said.
The nine groups are part of two major ethnic groups - the tribal Kukis in eastern Assam and the Adivasis inhabiting the northern and western parts of Assam.
Among the major groups that surrendered were the Kuki Revolutionary Army, the Hmar People’s Convention, the Birsa Commando Force, and the Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam.
All the nine militant groups are already observing ceasefires with the government, although formal peace talks are yet to begin. Most of these groups were either fighting for secession, or some for greater autonomy.
9 involved groups:
Adivashi Peoples Army (APA)
All Adivashi National Liberation Army (AANLA)
Santhal Tiger Force (STF)
Birsa Commando Force (BCF)
Adivashi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA)
Kuki Liberation Army (KLA)/Kuki Liberation Organisation (KLO)
Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA)
Hmar People’s Convention (HPC)
United Kukigam Defence Army (UKDA)