What is 'Karbi Anglong Agreement' that centre has signed? Who are Karbis

Karbis is a major ethnic community of Assam, which is presently splintered into various groups and factions. 

Created On: Sep 5, 2021 13:35 IST
What is 'Karbi Anglong Agreement' that centre has signed?
What is 'Karbi Anglong Agreement' that centre has signed?

The centre signed a tripartite agreement- "Karbi Anglong Agreement" on September 4, 2021 with representatives of Karbi outfits in New Delhi. The agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The agreement was signed by a delegation of six Karbi group members including Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (R), Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (Ceasefire), People's Democratic Council of Karbi Longri, Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (M) and United People's Liberations Army.

The Karbi group members were received by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla before the agreement was signed, encouraging them to come into the mainstream to ensure law and order and peace in Assam.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said there was a historical moment in 2019 when Bodoland Accord was signed and added "Now lower Assam has been turned into a peaceful area. Now we are going to sign an agreement with the Karbi Anglong group which is also a historic moment."

He also assured that the Assam government will take each and every possible step to make it a successful agreement and stated that "the accord will help in great support to the state".

Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called the agreement a "historic" move by the Centre. 

Who are Karbis?

Karbis is a major ethnic community of Assam, which is presently splintered into various groups and factions. Originally, they are one of Northeast India’s tribal groups, largely inhabiting the Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao (formerly North Cachar) hills districts. 

Why is Karbi Anglong Agreement important?

The Karbi Anglong Agreement is important as an insurgency by Karbi has had a long history in Assam, which has been marked by killings, ethnic violence, abductions and taxation since the late 1980s. The agreement hopes to bring an end to this violence and establish peace in the state. 

Around 1000 Karbi militants had surrendered before the Assam government in February 2021. Around 150 of those Karbi militants reached North Block where the Karbi Anglong Agreement was being signed and about 15 of them were present in the meeting. 

What has the centre agreed upon under Karbi Anglong Agreement?

Under the Karbi Anglong Agreement, the Assam state government has agreed to:

1. Provide financial compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the next of kin of persons who lost their lives in agitations related to autonomous state demand and have not yet been compensated in any manner. 

2. Consider favourably the proposal of KAAC to notify Karbi as the official language of KAAC. However English, Hindi & Assamese will continue to be used for official purposes.

3. Allocate Rs 500 cr (Rs 100 cr per annum) for development of infrastructure in KAAC area.  Additionally, the state will contribute Rs 500 cr for development of the area. 

4. In return, all signatory armed groups shall abjure the path of violence, surrender their weapons and disband their organisations within one month of signing of the Agreement. All camps occupied by these groups will also be vacated forthwith.

What did the Karbis demand?

The core demand of the Karbi outfits was the formation of a separate state. In late 1990s, the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People's Force (KPF) had come together to form the United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS). In November 2011, the organisation decided to lay down its arms and sign a tripartite memorandum of settlement with the Centre and the Assam government, settling for enhanced autonomy and special packages for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC). 

The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, which is protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Background

The former militants belonging to five Karbi splinter groups laid down their arms a year after the Assam state government signed the historic Bodo peace accord, bring an end to the long-run violence in Bodoland. The Bodoland region is also an autonomous territorial region that is administered by the elected body - Bodoland Terrestrial Council. The Accord was first signed in 2003 and then extended in 2020.

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