NLFB chief M Batha, 22 other militants lay down arms in Assam

GUWAHATI, July 22: National Liberation Front of Bodoland (NLFB) chief M Batha, along with two other leaders and 20 cadres of the militant outfit, laid down their arms at a surrender ceremony at Lalpani police station in Udalguri district in Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) on Thursday afternoon.

According to reports, the Batha-led first batch of the NLFB cadres, which also comprised leaders B. Bidai and B. Birkhang, had reached Udalguri after trekking through dense forests and hilly terrain close to the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

Sources said the remaining cadres of the militant outfit would soon join the surrendered cadres.

The militant outfit was floated by some “discontented” National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) cadres, led by Batha, who returned to the jungles following the disbanding of NDFB and signing of the third Bodo Peace Accord in January 2020.

Reportedly, some of their demands were not fulfilled even after signing of the peace accord, which prompted them not to join the other surrendered NDFB leaders and cadres, and instead return to the jungles.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had earlier announced Batha “as most wanted” and declared a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on him.

Cabinet minister Pijush Hazarika along with Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Pramod Boro and senior police officials, who attended the surrender ceremony in Udalguri, welcomed the cadres for returning to the mainstream.

The chief minister is expected to meet the surrendered cadres in Guwahati.

The surrender of the NLFB cadres took place following a series of appeals and discussions between mediators engaged by the Assam government and the outfit’s leadership.

It may be recalled that Himanta Biswa Sarma, after taking oath as chief minister on May 10, 2021, made a clarion call to the remaining militants to join the mainstream for peace and development in the state.

Sarma said that his government would make concerted efforts to bring an end to militancy in the state.

“People’s trust in the government policies is reflected by NLFB’s decision to return to the mainstream today. I welcome their homecoming. We reiterate our commitment for all round the development of Bodoland and to protect the unique socio-cultural and political identity of the Bodo people,” the chief minister informed through Twitter on Thursday morning.

IANS

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