TODAY -

Govt's peace process with NE insurgents : A boon or a bane for the people ?

Samuel Singsit*

Opened gall bladder containing numerous gallstones
Kuki National Front (KNF) deposited arms to Government on Sep 15 2010 as part of Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact signed between GOI and State Government and the Kuki Militant Groups :: Pix - Leivon Jimmy



It has been more than a decade now since the Government of India has initiated peace process with various insurgent groups operating in North east India under various banners. Ceasefire with various factions of NSCN, Suspension of Operations with multiples of groups in Manipur and similar such arrangements in Assam and Tripura in its endeavour to maintain peace and order in the North East.

North East India has never been completely free from insurgency or some sort of demands from the various ethnic communities. Since the early nineties the region has seen many encounters between the insurgents and the security forces but thanks to the peace process such incidence have come down drastically. But the seriousness of the Central Government in understanding the aspiration of the common people of the regions remains to be seen.

Plagued with the vicious culture of insurgency, the region lags behind in all spheres of development, even after six decades of Independence the region is yet to receive the first ray of development while other parts of the country have gone far ahead.

North East India being different from the rest of the country having its own problem due to its ultra- diversity, has the central government failed to understand the region's unique social and economic structure? Or is it that the Central Government can't find a reason to be motivated enough to solve the problems of the region because of its miniscule size of electorates? Successive Government at the centre fails to address the issue facing the common man in this part of the country and the region continues to suffer without any sign of abate.

Amidst all the rhetoric revolving around the issue, does these insurgent groups for all practical purpose represents the aspiration of the people? Are their demands feasible at all? At the height of insurgency the people had to succumb to intimidations from the barrel of the guns of the insurgents and the security forces alike. The common man lived in constant fear of the unruly insurgent groups and the brute of the security forces behind the shadow of the draconian law Armed Force Special Power Act which guarantee them complete impunity.

Now that the ceasefires and peace process are operational, the hostility between the security forces and the insurgents have taken a backstage, but the irony is that the never ending peace process doesn't seems to be a boon for the people of the region. The ground rules within which the insurgents are to remain confined seems to be just in paper.

The central government may boast of its achievements in promoting peace in the region and have granted peace package to some of the states but for the common man it is from the "frying pan to the fire". The Ceasefire and Suspensions of operations gave the insurgents a free hand to roam with impunity, the security forces turning a blind eye to grievance cause by them.

The NSCNs runs a parallel government in Nagaland where taxes are paid to two masters, Government on one hand and the NSCN Government on the other. The last time such dual governance exists was the Dual Government of Bengal during the British regime. Such is the frustrations and the sufferings of the civilians that recently some social activities formed an organisation in the name of ACAUT to fight the dual tax system in Nagaland. The success of the movement may still be a doubtful one but it is one such evidence that the common man has borne the brunt of insurgents for a very long time.

What was secret activities ante-ceasefire era has now become a day light affairs with no law and order to regulate the movements of the insurgents. The recent incident where the civilians siege one of the designated camps in Zunheboto district was just one of the few incidents which came to light. Yet the peace process continues with no sign of any conclusion and the sufferings of the common man continue while the central government continues to sing "All is well".

In Manipur the situation is no different in fact it is even worse with half of the insurgent groups in Suspension of Operations while the other half are in consistent gun battle with the security forces. The common man suffers either way, the fake encounters, the violation of human rights by the security forces and the insurgents alike has totally demoralised the people.

The security forces on one hand and the insurgents on the other have completely snatched away the fundamental rights of the people to live with dignity and without fear. There is no hope for the common man in this part of the country, their sufferings and servitudes will continue. While other parts of the country talks about industries, IT companies, investments, the region is yet to receive proper basic amenities like water and electricity even in the urban areas.

This culture of peace process by the central Government with the insurgents in North East is nothing but an eye-wash, for none of the parties are interested to come to any conclusions. The process is neither a panacea for the welfare of the region nor is it in the interest of the people though both the party claims to represent the people.

It seems to be the tactics of the Government to shy away from its responsibility to provide a sense of security to the people. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure the ground rules are followed in totality and that the peace process must not be a burden for the people but be a means to provide them the much needed peace and development.

A renewed determination from the central government to address the issue of the region and adoption of different approach to bring about a solution for the region is the need of the hour. After all, the solution to North East's issue may not be just meeting or rejecting the demands of the insurgents, it may also not be just merging or altering state boundaries, the solution lies somewhere within which can be explored, for the future of North East India it will be worthwhile for the centre to have a look with a proper magnifying glass.


* Samuel Singsit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 14, 2014.


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