NEW DELHI, Jan 18 � Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is likely to arrive in Guwahati on January 24 to oversee surrender of weapons by nine militant outfits of the State.
Official sources have confirmed that the Home Minister would pay a daylong visit to the State ahead of the Republic Day celebrations. He has agreed to be the chief guest of the function organised by the State Government, said sources.
The nine militant groups, which are laying down arms, include four Adivasi militant groups like Adivasi Cobra Militants of Assam, Birsa Commando Force, Santhal Tiger Force, Adivasi People�s Army and Adivasi National Liberation Army, besides Hmar Peoples Convention, Kuki Liberation Army, Kuki Revolutionary Army and United Kuki Defence Army.
A bonanza of sops is proposed to be given to the militant groups, with the Adivasi militant groups being offered Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The move, however, may leave other claimant communities including Koch Rajbongshi, Tai-Ahom, Moran and Mataks, on tenterhooks.
However, the move may benefit only select Adivasi groups including the Oraon, Munda, Santhals and Birsa. These groups already enjoy ST status in other States and that is why the Centre may not have much problem in adding these groups in the ST list, said sources, adding that the proposal being worked out may include economic packages.
Sources said that the package has been firmed up by the State Government in consultation with the Centre. The Home Ministry officials have already held discussions with representatives of the Adivasi militant outfits in Guwahati.
The Adivasi militant groups have demanded inclusion of Adivasi into the Scheduled Tribe list (under VI Schedule) and grant of ex-gratia payment to the riot-hit people. They have projected an estimated 2.50 lakh Adivasi people are living in camps.
The State Government, however, may have to do some deft manoeuvering on the issue of grant of ST status to the Adivasi communities, leaving out other communities including the influential Koch-Rajbongshi, Tai-Ahom, Matak and Moran, who may not take kindly to the move to appease one group. In all, six communities in the State have been agitating for ST status for long.
Sources said that though the Kuki and Hmar militant outfits are not much of a threat, as they do not have significant presence, the peace pacts with Adivasi militant groups though is significant, given their potential to create trouble.
The groups are known to target the National Highways and Railway network.
The other aspect, said sources, is the growing apprehension that the cadres belonging to the Adivasi groups may fall into the waiting arms of the Maoists. As reported, the Maoists are trying to prepare the ground to set up bases in Assam.
The package being prepared also includes rehabilitation of the Adivasi refugees living in relief camps in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts.