Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sansad TV: Perspective- Peace in the Northeast

sansad_tv

 

 

Introduction:

The Modi government aims to resolve inter-boundary disputes in the Northeast and also strike reconciliation with all armed insurgent groups by 2024, said Union Home Minister. Presiding over a historic tripartite agreement between the Centre, Assam govt and eight armed tribal groups of the state, Amit Shah said many agreements have been signed with armed groups since 2014, with 93% of these pacts implemented on the ground. Listing out data, he said the number of insurgency-related incidents in the northeast had decreased from 824 in 2014 to 158. The number of civilian killings in the region had declined from 212 in 2014 to six, and the number of security forces killed during the same period had reduced to two from 20 earlier. Also, more than 10,000 cadres had surrendered and joined the mainstream after 2014 and more than 7,000 weapons had been surrendered. He reiterated that the Centre is making every effort to make the whole of the North East and its largest state Assam free from drugs, extremism and controversy.

Factors responsible for insurgency in North-East India

  • Sense of Isolation, Deprivation and Exploitation: Distance from New Delhi and meagre representation in the Lok Sabha has further reduced the vox populi being heard in the corridors of powers, leading to more disillusionment in the dialogue process, thereby making call of the gun more attractive.
  • Demographic Changes
  • Lack of Economic Development: Union Government’s economic policies have also fuelled resentment and insecurity amongst the people. Due to various factors, the development of NE has lagged behind thereby resulting in lack of employment opportunities. Thus, the youth are easily lured by various insurgent groups in order to earn easy money.
  • Internal Displacement: Internal displacement is also an ongoing problem. From the 1990s to the start of 2011, over 800,000 people were forced to flee their homes in episodes of inter-ethnic violencein western Assam, along the border between Assam and Meghalaya, and in Tripura.
  • External Support: There is ‘increasing evidence’ of China’s revival of its ‘covert offensive’ in the region.Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG) also trained the Naga guerrillas in the 1960s through their bases in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
  • Multi-Ethnicity: NE is the most ethnically diverse regionin India. It is home to around 40 millionpeople including 213 of the 635 tribal groups. Thus, each tribal sect resents being integrated into mainstream India as it means losing their own distinct identity.
  • Perceived Excesses by Indian Army: The promulgation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in most of the NEI has further alienated the local populace.
  • Easy availability of Arms and ammunition from hostile neighbours and the Porosity of the border with Myanmar due to difficult terrain has helped in infiltration of insurgents.
  • The chief sources of funding are extortion, arms and drugs smuggling. Proximity to the Golden triangleensures funding for separatist/secessionist organisations via support of illegal drug smuggling.

Measures needed:

  • Proper Demarcation of Borders
    • There is a need for a legitimate ‘Centre led’ initiative to resolve the border issues.
    • The Centre can decide to maintain the status quo in the region or find a ‘common rationale’ to demarcate the border.
  • People to People Engagement
    • All ethnic majority and minority tribes residing in the region, must be respected and developed.
    • The concept of a ‘shared’ North East Identity could bring the people together. Education can be an effective tool to facilitate people-to-people connect.
  • The Act East Factor
    • Maintaining a peaceful North East is vital for India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as the NorthEast Region is the doorway to the ASEAN regions.
  • Empowerment of the people by maximizing self-governance and participatory development throughgrass-roots planning. Such planning will help to evolve development strategy based on the resources, needs and aspirations of the people.
  • Rural development with a focus on improving agricultural productivity and the creation of non-farm avocations and employment.
  • Capacity developmentwill have to address the issue of imparting skills among the people to enhance their productivity, generating a class of entrepreneurs within the region willing to take risks.
  • Augmenting infrastructure, including rail, road, inland water and air transportation to facilitate a two-way movement of people and goods within the region and outside, communication networks.
  • Ensuring adequate flow of resources for public investments in infrastructure, implementing a framework for private participation in augmenting infrastructure and creating an enabling environment.

Conclusion

  • Innovation, Initiatives, Ideas and Implementation–all the four needs to go together.
  • Inclusive growth is possible through improved governance, doing away with the draconian laws and ensuring the local communities are empowered to implement basic services.
  • For this, all the stakeholders need to formulate a comprehensive realistic plan for the overall development of North East.