Silchar, Sept. 4: The first steps towards securing a peace deal with the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) were taken today when some senior police officials met a few leaders of the outfit to discuss various issues.
The North Cachar Hills district administration has also shortlisted four locations for setting up designated camps for the outfits cadres.
Today was the first informal interaction between the government and the outfit since the Centre set September 15 as the deadline for the DHD (J) to meet its conditions to kick off the peace process.
Sources said the discussions were held at a place between Langting and Lumding in North Cachar Hills district. While Langting is in the hill district, Lumding falls in adjoining Nagaon district.
The police officials who met the DHD (J) group included the DIG of Assam police (South zone), Dipak Kumar, and North Cachar Hills SP Anurag Tankha. At least five leaders of the Jewel Gorlosa-led militant group were closeted with the police negotiators. Maurang Dimasa, a sector leader of the DHD (J), was one of the delegates. Gorlosa had been arrested by the Assam police from Bangalore on June 3 and is now in judicial custody.
The sources said the discussions mainly hovered over the surrender of weapons and shifting of the outfits cadres to designated camps where they would have to stay once they come overground.
Certain arrangements like how they will surrender their weapons and where need to be worked out. Some other issues were discussed too, one of the sources said, adding that all the details could not be divulged at this juncture.
But we are expecting a positive response from the outfit to the governments deadline. They should come over much before the deadline expires, he added.
The source said the four locations shortlisted for the designated camps were Haflong, Maibong, Langting and Dihang. We have identified these places taking into consideration the convenience of both the administration and the outfit, he added.
The government has laid down four conditions, which the DHD (J) must meet before September 15 for Dispur to accept its ceasefire offer.
These are surrender of weapons, cadres to be put up at designated camps, cessation of all extortion activities and presence of the entire group, including all its leaders, for talks.
The DHD (J) has also put forward certain demands. These include renaming NC Hills, bringing the district under Article 244 (A) of the Constitution for an autonomous state within a state, introduction of inner-line permit, general amnesty for all its cadres, raising of a Dima battalion in the security forces to absorb its members and a separate parliamentary constituency for the district.
Renaming of North Cachar Hills to Dima Hasao Raji (habitat of the Dimasa tribals) is one of the key demands of the outfit. The Dimasas constitute 43 per cent of the districts population, which is now pegged a little over two lakh.
Dethang Naiding, the president of Jadikhe Naiso Hasam, the apex body of Dimasas in the district, told this correspondent over phone from Haflong that the demand to rename the district appeared to be the core of the political demands of the outfit.