Haflong, March 9: The guns that had once spouted death today had roses stuck in their business ends. Their job in Dima Hasao district was done after about more than two decades, during which their ownership had changed thrice.
“Here on, ours will be a democratic movement for Dimaraji,” proclaimed Dilip Nunisa, soon after declaring that the outfit he led and had lent his name to, Dima Halam Daogah (Nunisa), for the past eight years had ceased to exist from today.
At the N.L. Daulagupu sports complex here where a “homecoming” ceremony was held to signify the return to home of the DHD (N) cadres this afternoon, Nunisa also declared the formation of Halali Progressive Group, which would be a democratic organisation.
The “homecoming” saw the return of 2,009 members of which 691 were from the armed wing and 1,318 were overground workers known as public relations officers.
The outfit also laid down 135 weapons that included, among other things, light machine guns, M-16 rifles, AK series rifles, grenade launchers, besides rockets (but no launcher) grenades and other assorted ammunition.
Addressing the gathering, he appealed to the governments both at the Centre and in the state to implement all the clauses of the memorandum of settlement signed on October 8 last year to bring about overall development of the district.
“The MoS did not address all that we wanted and we ask the government to consider afresh what were left out,” he said.
Nunisa appeared to be struggling with a lump in the throat when he said, “I am both sad and happy today.”
He would elaborate later that he felt sad that the DHD (N)’s journey had come to an end, but was happy that a new journey awaited them with the HPG. He said later there was a very real possibility of participating in the elections to the autonomous council scheduled for April.
“We will have a meeting later tonight and within two days we will finalise,” he said after the function.
On its part, Assam government gave its assurance to do all within its means to develop the district.
Power and industries minister, Pradyut Bordoloi, speaking in near-chaste Hindi, said the government would take up all unfinished work with renewed vigour to bring them to an end. He mentioned the railway track conversion work and the East-West corridor, which had lagged behind because of insurgency in the district.
“Together with you the government will ensure that these works are expedited,” he said. Peace in these parts holds great significance not only for the people residing here, but also for Barak Valley, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram as the broad gauge and the highway would also benefit them.
Nunisa was particular in sending out a loud and clear message to the non-Dimasas in the district that implementation of the MoS would also benefit them and that all should join hands to take the district on the path of development. The non-Dimasas, who together claim are more in number than the Dimasas, had all along opposed any settlement with the two factions of the DHD, the other being DHD (Joel), which jointly signed the MoS with the DHD (N) and have let their resentment known over change of name of the district from North Cachar Hills to Dima Hasao since the new name was not “neutral”.
They also want an autonomous council of their own covering in its jurisdiction the areas of their habitation within the district.
The militant organisations still active in the district and which stand by their respective communities include the NSCN (I-M), NSCN (K) and two factions of Kuki National Front.
Two other outfits, the Kuki Revolutionary Army and Hmar People’s Convention (Democratic), are, however, in talks with the government.
The guns with the roses are now in custody of the government, but some still have their business ends open.