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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 06 September, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

Karbi Anglong Peace Agreement 2021

About Karbi Anglong

  • Karbi Anglong district is one of the 33 administrative districts of Assam in India.
  • Diphu is the administrative headquarter of the district.
  • Karbi Anglong, the largest district in Assam, comprises various tribal and ethnic groups — Karbis, Bodos, Kukis, Dimasas, Hmars, Garos, Rengma Nagas, Tiwas, and Man (Tai Speaking). Apart from these groups, a lot of non-tribals also reside in the hilly district.
  • The Karbis racially belong to the Mongoloid group and linguistically to the Tibeto-Burman group.
  • It is an autonomous district administrated by Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and located in central Assam.
  • Spread across an area of 10,434 sq km, Karbi Anglong is geographically divided into two parts — East Karbi Anglong (EKA) and West Karbi Anglong (WKA) — with its administrative headquarters located at Diphu town in EKA.
  • The Karbi Anglong District Council (KADC), which looks after safeguarding the rights of the tribal people, was upgraded to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) in April 1995.
  • The Sixth Schedule allows the constitution of autonomous district councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard the rights of tribal population.

What is the Karbi issue?

  • The Karbi insurgency — for a separate state of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills — is one of the several insurgencies that Assam has faced over the years, apart from the Bodoland movement and the one led by ULFA to demand sovereignty for Assam.
  • After Independence of India, Several tribes of Northeast India like Naga people, Mizo people, Bodo people and Khasi people begin demanding separate statehood or complete independence identity for themselves.
  • These demands were agitated both by common people and group of insurgencies.
  • The Congress Govt. Assam in 1960, declared Assamese language as the official language of the State ignoring existence of multiple tribes and languages, causing discontent among indigenous tribes, which form majority of then Assam State.
  • This led to the formation of Nagaland State in 1963 and State of Meghalaya in 1971.
  • The then unified districts (Karbi Anglong district & Dima Hasao district) were invited to join the newly created Meghalaya.
  • The twin districts vetoed to join the newly created State of Meghalaya, after the assurance of greater independence from State of Assam.
  • Though the same assurance by State of Assam remain partly or wholly unfulfilled and diluted through decades.
  • This led to several memorandums, wave of agitations in the twin Districts of Karbi Anglong district and Dima Hasao district complaining of lack of fulfilment, infiltration in the Sixth schedule, ignorance and imposition of Assamese towards these districts by the State of Assam.
  • Several clashes have broken out between various tribes in Karbi over the years.
  • From the period between October 2003 and March 2004, a series of violent clashes had broken out between Karbi and Kuki militants, leaving 98 dead and 28 others injured.
  • The Kukis are a majority in the Singhason hill area. In 2005, clashes between Karbis and Dimasas killed 106 people and injured 19.
  • In 2013, in a joint agitation Bodo, Dimasa and Karbi disrupted transport service through highway and railway in their respective districts. Eventually, leading in lose of 2 lives due to police firing and damages to many public and private property.
  • In 2014, over 3,000 people from Karbi and Rengma Naga tribes were rendered homeless due to violent clashes that broke out between KPLT and Rengma Naga Hills Protection Force (RNHPF) on 27 December.
  • The district is also a hotbed of militant activities who aspire to achieve statehood though violence. UPDS, now defunct, has come overground for overall good, peace and development of the region and people.

Demand for Statehood

  • Regarded as the father and architect of ‘Karbi Nation’ and ‘Karbi Nationalism’, Semson Sing Ingti along with few others started a movement to raise awareness and political consciousness among the Karbi people.
  • In 1946, the first Karbi socio-political organisation, Karbi A Dorbar, was constituted, which submitted the demand for a separate state before the Bordoloi committee the next year. Gopinath Bordoloi, the first chief minister of Assam, headed this committee set up in 1947 to prepare schemes for the northeastern tribal areas.
  • In 1979, the Karbi Anglong People’s Conference (KAPC) — the autonomous district council for the protection of the rights of tribal people — declared they needed a separate state for the hilly population of Assam.
  • The Karbis’ demand for a separate state of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills gained further momentum after the Centre carved out Telangana in 2014.
  • However, unlike before, the demand for the separate state was backed by militant groups in the area in the 1990s. But these groups got disintegrated with time and fractionated out.
  • Militant outfits — Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People’s Force (KPF) — were formed in 1996, but could hardly gain any prominence. Then in 1999, both organisations came under one umbrella, calling itself the United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS).
  • The UPDS’ then general secretary Horen Sing Bey is now the BJP MP from the Karbi Anglong Lok Sabha constituency.
  • The UPDS entered into a ceasefire agreement in 2002 with the Indian government, after which its ‘anti-talk’ faction formed the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) in 2004.
  • In 2010, the KLNLF entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India during which over 400 cadres laid down their arms. Then, one of its members Amitabh Hanse broke away from the outfit with 17 other cadres to form the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT), declaring to continue the struggle for fulfilling the needs of the Karbi people.

Karbi Peace Agreement

  • A historic agreement has been reached to establish peace in the Karbi-Anglong region.
  • Government of India and Government of Assam are making constant efforts to fulfill the just aspirations of the Karbi people.
  • The tripartite MoU was signed twice in 1995 and 2011.
  • But due to apathy by the old governments, despite these agreements, peace could not be established in Karbi-Anglong.
  • Indian Government held several rounds of talks with representatives of the Karbi and Kuki organizations, in an effort to find a comprehensive and final solution to the demands of the Karbi group, while upholding the territorial integrity of Assam.

Key points of the Karbi-Anglong Peace Agreement

  • Under this historic agreement, 5 militant organizations laid down arms and more than 1000 of their armed cadres have given up violence and joined the mainstream of society in February 2021.
  • A special development package of Rs. 1000 crore will be allocated over five years by the Central Government and the Assam Government to take up special projects for the development of Karbi areas.
  • This agreement will transfer as much autonomy as possible in exercising their rights to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam.
  • This agreement will ensure the protection of the culture, identity, language, etc. of the Karbi people and all-round development of the region.
  • In this agreement the Karbi armed groups have agreed to renounce violence and to engage in a peaceful democratic process established by the law of the land. Keeping this in mind, a provision has also been made in this agreement to rehabilitate the cadres of armed groups.
  • The Government of Assam will set up a Karbi Welfare Council to focus on the development of the Karbi people living outside the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council area.
  • The Consolidated Fund of the State will be amended to meet the resources of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.
  • Overall, the present agreement proposes to give more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.

Achievements so far in Karbi Anglong region

  • On 23 February 2021, 5 militant organizations from Karbi Anglong formally laid down arms.
  • More than a thousand cadres of 5 militant organizations of Karbi Anglong surrendered their arms and ammunitions. They surrendered a total of 338 weapons and 11000 rounds of ammunition including AK-series rifles, M16 rifles, LMGs, rocket launchers etc.
    1. People's Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK),
    2. Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF),
    3. Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (KPLT),
    4. Kuki Liberation Front (KLF) and
    5. United People's Liberation Army (UPLA)
  • 32 projects estimated of Rs. 350 crore under the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council package announced under the previous agreement are in various stages of completion today.
  • The Union Home Minister laid the foundation stone of Karbi Bhawan and Dimasa Bhawan in Delhi on 19th August 2019, which was a long pending demand.
  • 22 crore projects have been approved under the North-East Infrastructure Development Scheme
  • Under NLCPR scheme of Central Pool, 20 projects costing 200 crores are under development.
  • The Assam Hill Medical College and Research Institute has been inaugurated at Diphu and the academic session has commenced.
  • The development of tourist lodge at Bagori entry point has been successfully completed.
  • Construction of Cancer Care Center at Diphu is underway.

Source: PIB


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