Former self-styled deputy commander-in-chief of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) Drishti Rajkhowa and 62 other rebels from four insurgent outfits of the region surrendered with arms and ammunition in front of Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday.
Rajkhowa, an expert in rocket propelled grenades (RPG), was the second most important man in ULFA-I after commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah. Rajkhowa had surrendered before security forces in Meghalaya last month.
A large number of arms and ammunition, including assault rifles, pistols, grenades, etc, were handed over by the rebels from ULFA-I, United Peoples’ Revolutionary Front (UPRF), Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) and Peoples’ Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK).
“It’s nice that several children of Assam who were engaged in anti-national activities have decided to return to mainstream and join in nation building. I welcome them all back,” said Sonowal at a function held at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati.
“Our effort would be to ensure proper rehabilitation of those who have given up violence. I urge those who have laid down arms today to avail the various schemes launched by our government to help them,” he added.
This was the third major laying down of arms ceremony by rebels in Assam this year. In January, three days after signing of the third Bodo peace pact, 1615 cadres of three factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) had given up arms.
The same month, 644 rebels of 8 militant outfits – ULFA-I, NDFB (S), Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, National Liberation Front of Bengalis, Rabha National Liberation Front, Communist Party of India-Maoist, National Santhal Liberation Army and Adivasi Dragon Fighter had laid down arms.
With Monday’s ceremony, the total number of rebels laying down arms in such big numbers and joining the mainstream increased to 2,323 this year.
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