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300 militants lay down arms in Assam

September 30, 2008 18:29 IST

Three hundred and five members of the United Liberation Front of Barak Valley led by its president Pancharam Apeto gave up arms before Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi  in Guwahati on Monday.

The militants deposited 3 AK-47 assault rifles, 1 M-16 rifle, 60 rifle of  .12 bore and  AK series ammunition, among others.

Welcoming the ultras to the mainstream, Gogoi said that the government would help the former ultras to lead a dignified life with the assistance from the rehabilitation package for surrendered militants as approved by the government of India.

"Some of your demands which include developmental works like building roads, health centre and educational institutions will be taken care of as the government has given added thrust to the backward areas including the border areas," Gogoi assured the ultras.

Terming the surrender of the ULFBV cadres as a welcome development which augurs well for the state, Gogoi hoped that leadership of the banned ULFA would also realize the futility of violence and return to the mainstream for the greater interests of the state and its people.

"It has dawned on almost all the militant groups of the state, including ULFA's two companies that violence begets violence and causes harm to everyone. It is through talks that demands could be fulfilled and not through the barrel of the gun. I hope the ULFA leadership would also follow in the footsteps of those who have surrendered today to usher in lasting peace in the state. I once more appeal to them to abjure violence and join in the peace process. Let us all join hands for a peaceful and prosperous Assam," Gogoi appealed.

The chief minister also said that the government has taken up a mission to generate employment for the youths of the state.

State director general of police, R N Mathur promised all possible help from his department in the efforts to rehabilitate surrendered militants from the ULFBV which was active in the Barak Valley area in South Assam bordering Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Bangladesh.

Inspector general of police (Special Branch), Khagen Sarma said "More than 13,000 militants from different outfits have so far returned to the mainstream in the state. Out of those, 8,626 have been rehabilitated by the state government. Almost all the militant outfits of the state have shown their willingness for talks,"

The president of ULFBV, Pancharam Apeto, said they had taken up arms out of a sense of frustration and deprivation. "As it gradually dawned on us that violence would not help in fulfillment of our genuine demands and having being convinced by the assurance given by the IGP Sarma that our demands would be looked into in right earnest, we decided to bid farewell to arms and to return to the mainstream," he added.

The ULFBV which was established in 2001 has had its presence mainly in the Hailakandi and Karimganj districts of Barak Valley. Most of the members of the outfit belong to Reang tribe community.

K Anurag in Guwahati