Over 400 Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) rebels bade farewell to arms at Diphu, the headquarters of Karbi Anglong district, on Thursday.
The KLNLF has been an irritant for security forces since 2004. The surrender is viewed as a major breakthrough after that of the Black Widow faction of Dima Halam Daogah in adjoining North Cachar Hills district.
Altogether 412 KLNLF militants laid down arms and deposited 158 assorted weapons at a ceremony here in presence of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and senior officials of the Union Home Ministry, Army and paramilitary forces.
Hailing the outfit’s decision, Gogoi said: “Guns cannot solve any problem nor can they help a group to achieve its goal. The KLNLF took up arms to realize its goal of development in Karbi Anglong. But it has now realized that development can come only through democratic means.”
KLNLF publicity secretary Rejak Dera said the “Karbi problem” was a political one warranting a political solution. “(Union Home Minister) P Chidambaram has written to us saying that the talks would begin soon. We’re hopeful of a solution,” he added.
KLNLF had earned notoriety by killing Hindi-speaking people. “Mistakes of the past will not be repeated,” Dera said.
KLNLF, which advocates self-rule for the Karbi tribe, came into existence as a splinter group of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS). In May 2002, UPDS entered into peace negotiations with the Centre. The move caused a split in the organization, and those opposed to talks formed KLNLF in May 2004.