Nagaon, July 16: The Haflong-based 22 Sector Assam Rifles has started a three-month technical training programme to facilitate rehabilitation of surrendered rebels of Dima Hasao-based outfits.
The Industrial Training Institute (ITI) has also been involved to provide on-the-job training to the cadres during the programme.
The 22 Sector Assam Rifles commander Gajindar Singh said the Assam Rifles had several rounds of discussions with the local administration, the district autonomous council leadership and representatives of companies engaged in the East-West corridor construction and gauge conversion work in the hill district.
“We asked the construction companies to consider engaging the cadres after they complete the training. The representatives assured us that all those who passed the training would be absorbed by the companies,” Singh said.
The training camp started on July 12 and the current batch, which comprises of 42 cadres — 11 from Kuki Liberation Army, 11 from Hmar People’s Convention and 10 each from Dima Halam Daogah (Dilip Nunisa) and DHD (Jewel Gorlosa), were asked to choose from among six industrial trades — electrical work, welding, auto repairs, electronics, computer basics and wiring work.
An Assam Rifles source said, “Each of these cadres are very sincere and disciplined workers. There might have been conflict among their groups earlier, but during the training programme, they are helping each other like good friends.”
The source said more such batches would be trained if the current programme proves successful.
Leaders of surrendered rebel groups and various communities of the district have appreciated the initiative, which has been backed by the Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council (DHADC) chief executive member and Dima Hasao deputy commissioner.
DHADC chief executive member Debojeet Thaosen said similar steps would be taken by the local administration and the autonomous council to rehabilitate surrendered cadres. “We have had several rounds of discussion with the state government to chalk out measures to make surrendered cadres self-dependent. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has promised to take up meaningful steps in this direction,” he said.
A former DHD-J rebel undergoing the training said, “We want a peaceful life hereafter. Such training could help me at least in opening a business in Haflong, which would at least keep my pot boiling.”
Militancy is one of the major reasons behind the hill district’s backwardness. According to official records, eight militant groups are operational in the district.
“The scenario is changing gradually. There is a feeling of repentance among the rebel cadres that is pushing them to return to the mainstream,” a Dima Hasao police source said.