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United Peoples Democratic Solidarity cadres lay down arms; heralds new chapter

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
DIPHU: In a grand ceremony Wednesday, 568 United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) cadres laid down arms before the government in Assam’s restive Karbi Anglong district, ending the 12 year-long insurgency in the region.

UPDS rebels joined the “mainstream” and deposited a huge cache of arms and explosives at a public function at Karbi Anglong Sports Association (KASA) stadium, Diphu.

Dignitaries present at the event were -- Maj. Gen. Shakti Gurung, GOC 4 corps, Sankar Baruah, DGP Assam, Khagen Sarma, Addl DGP and other high ranking officers of para-military and armed forces. The ceremony commenced with the UPDS’s flag retreat. It was carried to the podium by four cadres in full UPDS uniform and handed over to Sankar Baruah.

Longsodar Senar, chairman, UPDS, symbolically began the day’s ceremony by handing over one AK-series rifle to the DGP. Horen Bey, general secretary, V. Mukrang, K. Tisso, C-in-C along with other top ranking leaders also handed over their weapons to the authority. After the UPDS flag retreat, the National tri-colour was held high by four cadres of the organization as a mark of UPDS’s allegiance to the Constitution of India.

“This is a momentous event. With the UPDS coming back to society, we hope peace will endeavor and pave way for lasting peace in the region and optimistic end of all forms of sadism and mayhem”, said DGP Shankar Baruah during his speech at the arms laying down ceremony.

While addressing the UPDS cadres, Baruah assured to take all necessary steps to bring other insurgent groups into the mainstream. He mentioned that small and large insurgent groups have shown willingness for negotiation which was a welcome sign for both the government and the society.

Speaking on the occasion, Khagen Sarma, who was instrumental in bringing UPDS to the negotiating table, stated, “This is a historical day for the people of Karbi Anglong, security forces who were involved in counter-insurgency and UPDS.

Karbi Anglong is a unique region where almost all small and large insurgent groups are present, but  the encouraging fact is that major insurgent groups like KLNLF has also entered the peace process and it is expected that KPLT will follow the UPDS footstep soon. We started the peace process with UPDS, now the Nunisa and Jewel faction of DHD are also on the process of entering peace agreements.

The other encouraging sign is the willingness of relatively smaller armed outfits like several Kuki and five Adivasi militant groups to reject the path of hostility and enter into the peace parleys with the centre and state governments”.

UPDS was proactive in Karbi Anglong district unleashing violence, including sabotage of railway track, ambushing convoys, kidnapping for ransom, imposing total strike to paralyze normal life in Karbi Anglong in its quest for an autonomous land for the indigenous people of this region. UPDS responded to the peace call given by the Union government and decided to come to the negotiating table in 2002.

The outfit was formed in 1999, through an amalgamation of the former Karbi People’s Front (KPF) and Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) shaped in 1994. It reached a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2002 and since then peace parleys continued for nine years.

“We hope the central government responds to our peace overtures as we have decided to abjure the path of violence and come over-ground,” said one of the cadres in the arms lying down ceremony after putting aside his M-16 rifle, for the last time.

The decision of UPDS to disband its rank and file and hand over its arsenal to the government came after signing of a tripartite peace agreement between UPDS, Union government and the Assam government on 25 November this year. The outfit has taken the decision to join mainstream society and also contest the forthcoming Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council elections.

Immediately after the official ceremony came to an end, the entire venue was occupied by UPDS and its political allies. Jubilant cadres mingled with commoners and their relatives and well-wishers.

Those present in KASA stadium danced to the tune of a revolutionary song, composed by eminent leftist lyrist, Chandra Kt. Terang. A public rally was organized by Peoples Alliance for Peace Agreement (PAPA), umbrella organization of UPDS, where opposition leaders addressed a massive gathering where thousands of people rejoiced with the rank and files of UPDS to mark the occasion.


~Nagaland Post
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