Shillong: Militant outfit ‘United A’chik Liberation Army’ (UALA) on Thursday bid a farewell to arms at a disbanding ceremony at Turain in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills. A total of 68 cadres laid down their arms in the presence of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Home Minister Roshan Warjri.
The outfit’s joining the mainstream is being hailed as a major step forward in the direction of restoring peace and normalcy in the insurgency-hit Garo Hills region. Most cadres had earlier deserted the A’chik National Volunteers Council and Garo National Liberation Army to form the United A’chik Liberation Army.
UALA chairman Novembirth Marak, said they were misguided, and expressed his happiness over their joining back the mainstream. “We were misguided and had led a different live in the jungle. We regret being in the jungles. We have realised that there cannot be any peace in Garo Hills with arms. We are happy to come and join the mainstream. We believe that society will accept us and allow us to live together,” said Marak.
Marak said that they had tried to convince at least five other outfits to come together under the banner of A’chik Revolutionary Front (ARF) to join the mainstream. However, due to certain differences, it did not materialize. Marak also clarified that the outfit was not formed for easy money but they had no direction to look forward and had gone astray.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma welcomed UALA cadres’ decision and assured them of the government’s help .”The outfit had responded to the call of the government. We will provide them an enabling atmosphere to grow. There are several welfare programme of the government, we will guide the cadres to reap its benefit,” he said.
“It is a culmination of an exercise which is an offshoot of our very comprehensive due diligence to actual create an environment, where militants abjure from violence and all forms of unlawful activities and take decision to come over the ground and be part of the growth process of the national mainstream,” he added.
The outfit was formed in February 2013 by Norrok, a former action commander of the now disbanded A’chik National Volunteers Council (breakaway faction). In October 2013, Novembirth, who was general secretary of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), joined the outfit to be elevated to the rank of self-styled chairman. The outfit had signed the agreement on December 18.