Insurgency on the wane in northeast

Dear Mr Basu- this is Probir’s piece.

New Delhi, March 18: The troubled northeast which has over the past decades witnessed constant armed tussles for independence from India, is slowly turning into a tranquil region — thanks to the Indian government’s efforts to engage the rebels in dialogue.

With Delhi having succeeded to turn-around the most hard-core militants and make them sit across the table; lasting peace seems to be dawning on India’s most remote region.

Though hardline factions of the major insurgent group are yet to “smoke the peace pipe’” with the Indian government, rebel top-guns on the run have been sending “feelers” through mediators expressing their willingness to eschew violence.

Hardliners, however, are opposed to talks with the government until their key demand – sovereignty is on the table.

If indicators of the ongoing peace process between the centre and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) (Progressive) led by Gobind Basumatary and United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) ‘chairman’ Arabinda Rajkhowa are read, then a realistic solution lies within early addressing of the more contentious issues that plague the north-eastern state, feel pro-talk leaders.

“We are hopeful that the future talks will facilitate ground for constructive and meaningful dialogue and a permanent solution to the Bodoland problem,” NDFB (P) general secretary, Gobind Basumatary told IANS over phone from his camp in Baksa district of Assam.

Last week dialogues between pro-talk ULFA leaders led by its ‘chairman’ Arabinda Rajkhowa with union Home Secretary R.K. Singh is a sure indicator of the fresh impetus to the ongoing peace process in the region.

ULFA chairman Rajkhowa had said last week: “We are hopeful that soon there will be good news for the Assamese people. We are ready to step down from the sovereignty issue if our charter of demands is met. ULFA’s struggle for a Constitutional amendment to safeguard and protect the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam and other socio-economic issues must be addressed for lasting peace.”

Home ministry sources are confident that the government’s efforts to hold negotiation is indicator of the centre conceding to the different insurgent groups demand to find a lasting solution to the decades-old insurgency in the Assam.

“Both Paresh Baruah believed to be holed-up in Myanmar and jailed NDFB hardliner Ranjan Daimary are testing the waters for a peace settlement. While Daimary has had several rounds of dialogues with Central interlocutor P C Haldar, Baruah on the other hand has sent several feelers through intermediaries over the recent past,” a home ministry official told IANS declining to be named.

“Baruah still wants sovereignty to be the key issue to be placed across the table. We are hopeful of a lasting solution through political dialogue,” the official said.

Similarly, insurgent groups including Manipur’s United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Peoples’ Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) , Nagaland’s National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Khaplang (NSCN-K) NSCN-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), Tripura’s National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), All Tripura Tiger Force, Meghalaya’s Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and Hymientrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) are all in different stages of ‘negotiations’ with government.

IANS