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Assam: 23 members of extremist outfit NLFB, including ‘most-wanted’ leader Batha, surrender

The surrendered militants — including the outfit's chief M Batha alias Binod Mushahary — were received by the Bodoland Territorial Council chief Pramod Boro, Assam’s Water Resources Minister Pijush Hazarika, Chief Minister’s political advisor Jayanta Malla Baruah and Special DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: July 22, 2021 8:06:48 pm
NLFB leaders surrender. (Photo: Videograb/Twitter @himantabiswa)

At least 23 members of the National Liberation Front of Bodoland (NLFB), an extremist group formed five months ago in the Bodo Territorial Region (BTR), surrendered in Udalguri district’s Lalpani on Thursday.

The surrendered militants — including the outfit’s chief M Batha alias Binod Mushahary — were received by the Bodoland Territorial Council chief Pramod Boro, Assam’s Water Resources Minister Pijush Hazarika, Chief Minister’s political advisor Jayanta Malla Baruah and Special DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh.

“People’s trust on the Govt 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 Bodo people,” tweeted Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

“23 came today — rest of the group will join in the next 7-10 days,” said Special DGP Singh. He added that several sophisticated weapons were handed over on Thursday. “Once the entire group comes overground, we will be able to give the number of arms surrendered,” he said.

While Batha, who was earlier with the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), had laid down arms along with 1,615 insurgents of the NDFB in January 2020 (after the signing of the third Bodo Peace Accord), he later went underground and in March 2021, announced the formation of the NLFB. Earlier, the National Investigation Agency had added him to their ‘most-wanted’ list and announced a Rs 10 lakh reward for his capture.

Reportedly, the NLFB left because it was unhappy with the Accord, which was signed between the Centre, the Assam government and the Bodo groups — including all factions of the NDFB. Home Minister Amit Shah had described it as the “final and comprehensive solution” of the long-standing Bodo issue.

In the last five months, the NLFB — hiding in the jungles bordering Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar — primarily attempted extortions. “We successfully neutralised some cadres in the last two months. They were in the formative stage of operations and were trying to consolidate. They would have but because of overtures by the Assam government, they decided to come back,” said Singh.

Speaking to reporters, BTC chief Pramod Boro said that the surrender was a step towards making BTR free from all insurgent activities. “We are looking for 100 percent peace in Bodoland. The last three decades have been marked by violence that has affected education, economy and development in the region,” he said.

According to Singh, the surrendered cadres have no major demands but that the Accord is fulfilled. “This is something the state government is anyway committed to,” he said, adding that Batha and others will meet Sarma either on Thursday or Friday.

Speaking in the Assembly on July 12, Sarma said at least 3,439 militants belonging to different outfits had surrendered in Assam since 2016.

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