Karbi-Anglong Peace Accord – How will the agreement end decades-long crisis over Assam’s territorial integrity
Under Karbi Anglong Peace Agreement, the centre will welcome Karbi insurgents who have dropped their arms into the mainstream of the society and provide them with benefits to encourage them to work for the betterment of the region.
Karbi-Anglong Peace Accord: The centre, Assam state government and five Karbi insurgency groups signed a tripartite agreement- "Karbi Anglong Agreement" on September 4, 2021 to establish peace in Assam's Karbi-Anglong region.
The Karbi-Anglong Peace Accord has been hailed as historic, as it aims to end decades-old crisis and ensure stability in the state. It was signed by five Karbi insurgent groups including Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, People's Democratic Council of Karbi Longri, United People's Liberation Army and Karbi People's Liberation Tigers factions.
The peace accord comes months after over 1000 Karbi insurgents surrendered before the Assam government.
What is Karbi Anglong Agreement?
Under the Karbi Anglong Peace Agreement, the centre aims to welcome the Karbi insurgents who have dropped their arms into the mainstream of the society and provide them with more benefits than they ask for to encourage them to work for the betterment of the region.
Under the peace accord, Rs 1,000 crore development package will be given to Karbi Anglong in five installments worth Rs 200 crore each through the Assam budget over the next five years to undertake specific projects for the development of Karbi areas.
The centre and the state are also mulling over establishing Karbi Kalyan Parishad and a consolidated fund for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) through the state.
The peace accord is being called as a memorandum of settlement, as it would ensure greater devolution of autonomy to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC).
It would also aim to ensure the protection of identity, language and culture of the Karbi people and facilitate focused development of the Council area, without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam.
The Assam government will set up a Karbi Welfare Council for the focused development of Karbi people living outside the KAAC area.
Why is Karbi Anglong Agreement important?
The Karbi Anglong peace accord is important as the Karbi Anglong region has witnessed years of ethnic violence, killings and abduction in the fight for a separate homeland since the late 1980s. The agreement aims to bring an end to violence and establish peace in the state.
According to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was present during the signing of the Karbi-Anglong Peace Accord, said that the agreement is another milestone in PM Narendra Modi's vision of creating an "insurgency-free prosperous Northeast". He stated that over 1,000 armed cadres have dropped their weapons and joined the mainstream of society.
The Home Minister assured time-bound implementation of the accord to ensure the all-round development of Karbi Anglong and to ensure peace in the region. PM Narendra Modi-led government had signed similar peace pacts earlier with other insurgent groups of the Northeast -the NDFB, NLFT and Bru groups.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also said that it was a historic day as the militants of these five insurgent groups will now join the mainstream and work for the development of Karbi Anglong.
How will the Karbi Anglong Agreement end decade-long crisis?
The Karbi Anglong Agreement will provide more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.
The agreement aims to encourage the insurgent groups to shun violence, lay down their arms and join the mainstream society and the government will help in their rehabilitation and integration.
All the insurgents who had surrendered earlier in February 2021 have been brought into the mainstream by the government. In fact, about 15 of them were present during the signing of the peace agreement.
What is the Karbi Anglong crisis?
•Karbi Anglong is Assam's largest district, which comprises various tribal and ethnic groups such as Karbis, Bodos, Hmars, Kukis, Dimasas, Man, Garos, Rengma Nagas and Tiwas.
•Karbis are the more dominant ethnic group in the region, making up more than 46 percent of the district's population. The violence in Karbi Anglong began with the interest to protect the group's interests and identities. Several clashes erupted between the local tribes in the region. The main conflict in the region has been ethnic violence.
•Various armed outfits rose in the region to not only challenge the central and state governments to push for total independence or autonomy but also battle for territorial supremacy among themselves.
•The main demand of the Karbis has been for a separate state and the movement turned violent in the mid-1990s. The Karbi-Anglong Autonomous Council was set up under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in 1995.
•In 1996, two main Karbi groups- Karbi People’s Force (KPF) and Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) were formed and were later merged under the United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in 1999.
•The UPDS however, entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government in 2002 and was formally disbanded by 2011. However, there was a split in the UPDS during the peace talks and a new faction was created that was opposed to the talks. Though the faction also laid down arms in 2010, another insurgent group, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT), appeared on the scene.
•In recent years, the centre made an effort to engage with all these splinter groups and in February 2021, more than 1,000 members of five outfits laid down their arms.
The five Karbi outfits include:
People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK)
Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF)
Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT)
Kuki Liberation Front (KLF)
United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA)
Know who are the Karbis here
The centre noted in its detailed note on the 2021 Karbi Anglong Agreement that while similar peace agreements were signed with Karbi-Anglong groups in 1995 and 2011, peace could not be established in the Karbi-Anglong region.
The current peace accord, however, aims to ensure lasting peace is achieved in the region.