TODAY -

Fall out of insurgency/militancy in Manipur

By H Luwangngamba *

It may not be wrong to say that insurgency and underdevelopment are two sides of the same coin. They go hand in hand.

This is true at least in the context of the problems faced by the North Eastern States today.

Initially it was the lack of development which created conditions for the rise of insurgency, but now, ironically, insurgency itself is becoming the main reason for the lack of development.

Insurgency adversely affects the healthy social environment because of the fear that it puts on the minds of the people.

The law and order situation too deteriorates side by side. Because of the fear of armed insurgents as well as security forces, the common man has to consciously restrict his movement. Curfews and 'bandhs' only add to their problems. Such an environment apart from not being viable for proper economic and social development amount to a helllish condition.

The activities of all concerned and the inflammatory statements made by them create a lack of trust between the tribal communities and other people living in the areas.

The demand of the Naga insurgents for a greater Nagaland virtually set Manipur on fire. The Nagas want the Naga majority areas in Manipur to become a part of the present Nagaland.

The North East States have invaluable natural resources, breathtaking scenic beauty and good weather- a combination which can spell prosperity by way of local cottage industry, a sound market economy and a vibrant tourist industry.

But it is the fear in the minds of the 'potential tourist' that stops them from visiting these areas. The local inhabitants also miss out an opportunity to interact with the people outside their State and thus get a broader understanding of the country as a whole and vice-versa.

Residing in disturbed areas leaves its impact on the minds of the youth as well. In some way or the other, the quality of education that they get suffers. Those who do not have the resources to complete their education outside their States are the worst sufferers.

Unemployed youths become special targets of 'one and all.' Out of frustration, they are forced to join such groups, because they do not want to stay home unemployed and become a burden on their respective families. Most of these youths who join insurgent groups die, and those who return home in most cases fail to integrate with society.

Unemployed youth also easily come under the influence agents dealing in narco-terrorism.

The dark side of narco-terrorism is that money is extracted out of the poor people by making them drug-addicts. The money earned out of it is then directed towards anti-people and anti-national activities.

Those who are lucky enough to get education in better environments i.e. in places outside their States do not wish to come back and settle in their own hometowns because of the adverse conditions.

Apart from the insurgency problems, they are discouraged due to the poor infrastructure. In such conditions overall development takes even longer.

There are limitations in crushing insurgency by force alone. The ultimate solution is always political. The combination of using force up to the point of containing violence by insurgents and counselling works quite well in steering the process towards political resolution.

In situations where force has to be against insurgents of one's own country then side by side the process of winning their hearts and minds must also be vigorously pursued so that they are convinced that the Government is concerned about their welfare.

Dialogue and reconciliation between the Government and insurgent groups must start as soon as possible. The role of civil society organisations is important here.

Talks between the NSCN and the Central Government as well as the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government are indeed welcomed developments in the South Asian region. It can only be hoped that they have a salutary effect on other insurgent groups in the North-East.

For any State, region/country to prosper a secure and peaceful environment is a must.

Today's world hinges on economic development and to ensure that fruits of development are enjoyed by the insurgency troubled North Eastern States the sound of the guns must be silenced.




* H Luwangngamba wrote this article for The Sangai Express. This article was webcasted on May 20, 2008.

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