The eight adivasi groups – which together comprise 1,182 cadres – are All Adivasi National Liberation. Army (AANLA), AANLA (FG), Birsa Commando Force (BCF), BCF (BT), Santhal Tiger Force, Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam (ACMA), ACMA (FG) and Adivasi People’s Army (APA). They have been in a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government since 2016.
The tripartite agreement with the adivasi groups is the latest in a series of peace accords signed by the Center and the concerned governments since 2014 with various insurgent groups in the northeastern region, starting with the formation of the NLFT (SD) in 2019, Bru- Reang agreement and Bodo agreement in 2020, Karbi Anglong agreement in 2021, and Assam-Meghalaya regional border agreement in March this year.
According to the terms of the settlement, armed adivasi cadres will renounce violence, follow the law, and join the peaceful democratic process. The Center and the Assam government, in turn, will fulfill the adivasi groups’ political, economic and educational aspirations; protect, preserve and promote their social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identity; to ensure the focus and rapid development of tea plantations and adivasi villages in Assam; to establish adivasi welfare and development council; to reform the armed cadre and ensure the welfare of tea plantation workers; and provide a Rs 1,000-crore special development package for upgrading infrastructure in adivasi villages.
Shah said the accord with the adivasi groups would be another important milestone in the direction of making the northeast free from extremism by 2025. He said the Narendra Modi government is focusing on sustainable peace. and rapid development in the region. “We have decided that by 2024, the border disputes between the northeastern regions will end and all the rebels will join the regulars,” he said.
Even on Thursday, Shah held talks with the chief ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh on the border issues of the two states. The Minister of Interior urged them to resolve the conflict between the states as soon as possible, and assured them of all possible central assistance to achieve this.
Sarma said on Thursday that of the peace accords signed with most of the opposition groups in Assam, “only the last Dimasa accord remains”. Once that is done, Assam will be completely non-insurgency and peaceful, he added.
Both Shah and Sarma assured the adivasi leaders that the Center and the Assam government would ensure that the terms of the agreement were fully implemented. He claimed that 93% of the guarantees made in the previous agreements have been implemented.
Since 2014, 6,112 rebels in the northeast have surrendered and more than 9,500 have been arrested. There has been a significant decrease in accidental violence – from 824 in 2014 to 158 in 2022 (as of August 31). The number of security forces killed during this period decreased from 20 to 2, civilian deaths from 212 to six and militants killed from 181 to six, which shows a significant improvement in the security situation in the northeast. This has enabled a 60% reduction in areas under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Shah said.