Sustaining Peace in Northeast India:Changing Dimensions
A two-Day National seminar


13-14 february 2012, GUWAHATI

a report

 

  (From Right) Former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, BDHC to Eastern India Sanjay Wadvani and CDPS president Arun Sarma during the inaugural session of the seminar
 

The Centre for Development and Peace Studies organized a two-day national seminar titled 'Sustaining Peace in Northeast India: Changing Dimensions' at Guwahati from 13-14 February, 2012. The seminar was supported by the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata. Here is a report of the seminar which was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Assam Shri Tarun Gogoi. The British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India, Mr Sanjay Wadvani was the Guest of Honour at the occasion while the former Union Home Secretary Mr GK Pillai was the Keynote Speaker. The seminar was attended by a cross section of people including academics, scholars, writers, veteran journalists, social workers, college and university students, retired army officers, senior police officers and bureaucrats.

  DAY-I: february 13
  INAUGURAL SESSION
 
  Mr Sanjay Wadvani, BDHC to Eastern India addressing the participants during the inaugural session
  Welcome and Introduction

Mr PJ Baruah, Jt. Secretary, CDPS welcomed the participants and delivered the introductory address.

CDPS has decided to hold a Seminar on the topic Sustaining Peace in Northeast India: Changing Dimensions because it is felt that this is indeed a critical juncture for Northeast India: on one hand peace seems to be round the corner in states like Nagaland and parts of Assam with the Central Government at an advanced stage of peace negotiations with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and several other ethnic rebel groups while peace agreements have already been reached with groups like the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.

On the other hand, an entirely new dimension is being added to the insurgency dynamics in the region with a Maoist rebellion brewing and taking shape. What is dangerous is the liaison between these Maoists, whose leaders were indoctrinated by the CPI (Maoist) leadership in Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, and the Northeast rebels. One cannot help but suspect a grand Chinese design in aiding and abetting a Maoist insurrection in the Northeast, perhaps as an opportunity to use the region as a corridor to link up with the Maoists in the heartland.

  Address by Mr Sanjay Wadvani, British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India

In his address, Mr Sanjay Wadvani, British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India, said that the seminar is very timely and topical. The Northeast has tremendous economic potential and, in the current climate, with many radical groups preferring dialogue to settle disputes, the moment seems opportune to build peace in the region and give a new vigour to development. He said that this seminar will debate new challenges and threats at this time and this is very welcome as only by understanding the issues can stakeholders tackle the challenges.

“However, as we all know, and this seminar will discuss in detail, there cannot be business and economic growth without peace and stability,” Mr Wadvani stressed. He further said that the UK works for a secure and prosperous world and fully recognize that conflict stunts all development activities and needs to be addressed urgently. He said that the issues in this part of India are complex and there is no easy solution to any conflict.

Concluding, Mr Wadvani said, “I am very pleased to support this initiative by the Centre for Development & Peace Studies, to focus on ‘changing dimensions’ of the threat to peace in the Northeast. While there has been a marked improvement in peace and stability in the region, it is judicious of CDPS to focus on new threats to this evolving stability. The seminar also discusses important issues such as economic initiatives to reduce conflict, which can perhaps transform the region as a new business hub with neighbouring countries increasingly looking at closer economic co-operation.”

  Keynote Address: Mr GK Pillai, Former Home Secretary, Government of India
 
  Mr GK Pillai, Former Home Secretary, Govt. of India delivering the Keynote Address
 

The keynote address at the seminar was delivered by Mr GK Pillai, Former Home Secretary, Govt. of India. Mr Pillai said that each state in the Northeast is unique and has a unique set of problems and is at different stages of resolving its internal security problems and the impact of neighbouring states’ internal security problem.

He said that looking at the key indicators of violence in Assam, it is seen that the number of violent incidents have come down gradually. It must be admitted, according to him, that there is a yearning for peace in Assam and popular support for militant groups is on the decline. He analyzed whether this trend could be sustained and nourished in the coming decade and about the emerging new threats on the horizon.

“The Maoist threat is certainly one that is emerging. The Maoist strategy is to fish in troubled water and exploit any grievances or even perceived grievances. This has to be tackled politically at the grassroots level and not allowed to convert itself into an armed movement. I would, therefore, urge all the political parties in Assam and even NGOs to appreciate what the Maoists are planning and counter their propaganda with a well planned campaign at the grassroots level. The Maoists are fascist in character and have no faith in parliamentary democracy and believe in armed movement to achieve their aim to capture political power. The subtle campaign of the Maoists to portray themselves as champions of the underdog and protector of the deprived is but a part of their larger campaign to seize political power through an armed struggle. And the State of Assam needs to learn from the experiences of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa and nip it in the bud right now. The primary task will be for the grass root workers of recognized political parties to counter the propaganda of the Maoists at the village level and educate them of the ill effects of again going through a phase of violence which the State of Assam can ill afford as it turns its attention towards full scale development,” he stated.

Taking up the issue of sustaining peace in Nagaland, Mr Pillai said that there is a significant reduction in violence in the state. Yet armed cadres of these two groups [now three as there has been a split in the NSCN (K)] continue to move freely in the State and coerce, intimidate and extort at will. A significant development in recent years has been the growing disillusionment of the Eastern Nagas with the State Government which culminated in their demand for a separate State for the Eastern Nagas, as they feel that they will not get due political and economic justice within the State of Nagaland. On the other hand, the Government of India has entered into negotiation with the NSCN (IM) to try and find a political solution to the insurgency. According to him, the talks have made significant progress.

Coming to the State of Manipur, Mr Pillai said that this is perhaps the most problematic State in the Northeast as no genuine dialogue has yet taken place with the insurgent groups. The two economic blockades in the recent past, caused considerable economic hardship to the poor especially the Imphal Valley and increased the alienation between the Meities and sections of the tribal population. The State police force has become politicized and highly dysfunctional. And more worrying is the discontent between the State Government and the Government of India on how to tackle the security situation and the consequent social and economic fall out.

Mr Pillai said that the state of Arunachal Pradesh is by and large peaceful except for the disturbed districts of Tirap and Changlang. The State Government had shown significant indifference to the situation in these two districts which has the two militant groups NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) vying for supremacy in influence, extortion, kidnappings and killings.

Referring to the situation in Tripura, he said that it is far more stable and improving. On the other hand, he said that Meghalaya has seen deterioration on the law and order front in the last few years. The growing inter-tribal rivalry and the political uncertainties in Meghalaya have resulted in lack of attention to governance and security matters.

Mizoram & Sikkim are beacons of peace and both the Central and State governments are striving hand to improve the economic condition of the people and other States in the NE have to learn from their example.

Two external factors to be noted which have a bearing on peace in the Northeast are the improving ties and cooperation across the border with neighbouring Bangladesh and the recent efforts by the Myanmar Government at reconciliation with its own tribal regions and efforts to establish a more participative democracy.

Concluding, Mr Pillai said that the prospects for peace in the Northeast can only improve through:

1. Better governance by the State and local authorities. The State Governments have to be more inclusive in their approach to development and ensure the willing participation of all minority groups in the developmental process. Identity and culture of the various diverse ethnic groups need to be respected and preserved. This is the essence of the special nature of the Northeast region which gives a distinctive flavor to the Indian Nation.
2. Better connectivity in the Region.
3. More active participation by civil society groups in all aspects of governance and the State Governments facilitating this – as it is in their own long term interest.
4. Most important, give topmost priority to create sustainable employment in all spheres of economic activity, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors, music, sports, handloom and handicraft and agriculture. This will be the key for sustainable peace in the region.
5. The people in the northeastern States have changed and are changing. The insurgent movements have also significantly evolved. The State Governments need to take notice of this and respond effectively to the new needs and aspirations of the people.

 
  Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi delivers his Inaugural speech
 

Address by Chief Minister of Assam Mr Tarun Gogoi

In his inaugural address, the Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that northeast India is bestowed with abundance of natural resources but still insurgency is prevalent. Economic development and better connectivity is required for the inclusive development of the region and ‘dignity’ and cultural and traditional values are to be respected.

Addressing the delegates, the Chief Minister said, “Armed revolution in this region is not a new phenomenon. But armed revolution in northeast India will not succeed.” He said that no problem can be solved by force. “Our job is not to eliminate but to bring them back. In the meantime, government has to deal firmly with those who indulge in violence. The surrendered militants need to be rehabilitated. We have to be inclusive in development. Skill development in different sector will form employment opportunities,” he added.

 

Vote of Thanks

Delivering the vote of thanks, CDPS President Arun Sarma said, “The Northeast has been in the grip of a vicious cycle – lack of development, breeding insurgency and the unrest that follows retarding progress. Things are, of course, changing for the better and we all hope there would be good days ahead.” On behalf of CDPS, he offered sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr GK Pillai, Mr Sanjay Wadvani and his colleagues for their support, and each and every participant for accepting invitation and coming over for the seminar.

  SESSION II
  Interactive Discussion with Mr GK Pillai
 
  A view of the participants in the Seminar
 

Opening the interactive session, the keynote speaker Mr GK Pillai said, “There are number of issues which are yet not addressed either in the media or in the government arena and so on. I would like to raise those here given the opportunity. One is the issue of illegal migration coming up again and again. What about giving work permit to people who are coming from Bangladesh to work in India. There are 10 million people working in the Middle East – always through proper work permit. We talked about cattle smuggling. There is substantial amount of money involved in it. We have the issue of border fencing which exist for political reasons. There are issues of good or bad neighbors associated with it. From my experience, I can say that many a time, when the chief ministers and others talked to the Central Government, most of the time they discussed only about allocations. No discussion about the future of the Northeast, what is the type of the issues and where are we going.”

He said that from the talk by the Chief Minister two schools of thoughts are coming up: you alienating the insurgents or keeping insurgency under control. “I think this is a big issue. From the government of India perspective, law and order is going to be more turbulent issues and it is not to contain insurgency alone.

“In all India level there are lots of issues coming up like corruption that gets huge attention. The Northeast doesn’t have that much attention in the mainland. Whole lots of issues are coming up. How do we deal with these?” Then, he opened the floor for discussion.

First Round of Interactions

Mr Subir Bhaumik: In spite of the policy decision that the left wing movement is considered as the largest security threat to the country, still army is not deployed. On the other hand, army is deployed in NEI for counter insurgency operation. Counter insurgency is a war of hearts and minds. Does AFSPA really serve the purpose?

Dr John Sema: In the case of the Northeast, GOI use army for counter insurgency but in the case of Naxalites in the mainland why army is not used? Why two different yardsticks?

Dr NG Mahanta: Don’t you think we need some kind of orientation where human security is address. And also the issue of AFSPA and imposed development plan like Vision 2020. Even the discourse of the mega dams is structurally colonial. These questions we need to reflect on. Is it shifting away from conflict issues?

Col. Monoranjan Goswami: Army does not enjoy the counter terrorism in Northeast India. Counter terrorism is a job imposed on army and army will do with all its might’s, efficiency. Insurgency cannot be rooted out without the use of army in Northeast. And if you use Army, AFSPA has to be there as army has its own way of working.

Ms Patricia Mukhim: Mr Pillai talked about Centre not being able to enough attention to states. Perhaps this will continue in the next decade also. The constitution talked about Union and states, not Centre. We are supposed to be a union of states. In the Northeast India, where states are constantly in a state of emergency, they are loosing their autonomy.

Dr Rakhi Kalita: Does AFSPA have anything to do with colonial hang over of having backward areas, ‘disturbed area’ which came later? Is AFSPA getting much substantial of attention?

Ms Elizabeth Devi: Law and order concept has been challenged in the light of armed conflict. If we take the question of only law and order I think we are ignoring the human security aspects. Human security problem is encountered in all level of the implementation level in armed conflict situation.

Mr GK Pillai Responds:

• It is not that army was not used in Naxal plane. Army was used in 1960 when a division of Naxal was active in West Bengal. Today, Army is reluctant to come to Naxal areas and also for the fact that they are spread in other areas like in J&K. It’s a conscious decision of GOI that army will not be used in the Maoist area. Therefore, the question comes, can the role of army be reduced in J & K and in Northeast. Now, J &K because of border with a hostile country, there is a presence of army for trans-border terrorism. There are 26 camps of training insurgents on the other side. We are reducing army form the populated areas of J & K. In Northeast I personally feel that you can reduce army role substantially, provided you are willing to take police to take the additional responsibility. Manipur is a classic example where you don’t see much of army now. Then Nagaland, whole of Nagaland remained ‘disturbed area’- no security person is killed in last 8 years. State government wants ‘disturbed area’ status to go. But army, IB etc pushed for the status to continue due to some apprehensions. I was of the opinion that lets remove disturbed areas status and lets see what happens. Politically it didn’t hold. Real issue is ‘disturbed area’ status, not AFSPA. AFSPA comes in when the area is declared ‘disturbed’. Disturbed area means local administration is unable to tackle the situation and in so many years state still couldn’t perform as it is desired. Under the rule of law, army can be reduced substantially in northeast and state police has to act. In the case of NPMHR 1997, Supreme Court has asked for the review of the status of ‘disturbed area’ every six months. Its going on as a routine and it going on. Army cannot be used against civilians. If there is disciplined police force, dependence of army can be reduced in northeast India.

• Downsizing of government is an issue where you need lots of government bodies. Judicial reform is an issue too.

• Roads in Arunachal Pradesh were kept undeveloped as there was a policy that keep the border areas as undeveloped as possible as China may come in. Now it changed and roads are now being built up and it will take five years more to complete the job.

• About the dependence on centre, I agree with you. We are sending para military forces to Northeast but there is no substitute for local police as they know people of the place. About 4 lakh central paramilitary are now deployed here. It is informed to the paramilitary officers that they are going to be posted for longer period in Northeast India and they are even learning local languages and cultures.

• Police has to act and in many cases where police doesn’t act. Take the case of Nagaland – police is not ready to act. Twenty crores of rupees have been spent for its modernization. In Manipur 50 per cent of the police force is engaged in providing security to 150 VVIPs. In Delhi 19 new police stations with 80 police officials in it were established by reducing police force from the VVIP security duties during my tenure, without hiring new personnel. This I could do with the help of the Home Ministry. People have to decide – are the police force is meant for the people or the VVIPs?

• Development deficient is there in Northeast. How long the 10 per cent budget allocation will continue? Now, it continued for 20 years. That is something one needs to think as this allocation will not continue for years to come.

 
  Mr Subir Bhaumik asking a question during the interactive session
 

Second Round of Interactions

Mr Pradip Phanjoubam: To answer Patricia, I would say that centre and federalism is there in the constitution and the constitutional assembly debates indicate of a strong centre in Indian system. Example: Commission of Enquiry Act 1952, article 365, 3 etc suggests the same and there was unspecified motive for strong centre and this needs to be changed after 60 years of working of the constitution.

Some kind of diplomatic change is happening about the army. Army has been used to fight aggression against external forces. I don’t think India will go to war again as its neighbours like Nepal, Bhutan etc. doesn’t have the power to face India. Army has to be kept fit and so increasingly they are doing policing job. Job of army needs to be defined. AFSPA is a symptom of lack of redefining new roles for army. It’s the same mentality. We are not going to abolish army but their role needs to be redefined, which is not happening.

Ms Rosemary Dzuvichu: In segments of your talk you said about the DGP of Nagaland. This is a major issue. On one side their doing policing job and on the other hand there is huge issue of corruption which is eating away the issues of development. On centre-state relation how much monitoring is done? There has been rampant corruption in terms of education, social justice. Many of us living with fear under the shadow of AFSPA, the army has an ugly role and its time for army to go back and let people think about their future. The peace process is on but factional killings too are going on. This issued needs to be addressed too.

Dr Rajen Singh: I have two questions. 1. How difficult it is to initiate dialogue with militant groups without pre conditions for the GOI? 2. In Tripura, police has been successful in upholding law and order situation. But in the case of AFSPA and the recruitment of police forces in Manipur, 40 per cent are recruited from the constituency belong to the chief minister and his wife. In that case, I think we need to have recruitment monitoring as local police can contribute a lot. I did a survey and it was found that 80 per cent of police forces believe that they can tackle insurgency with the help of armed forces. Thus monitoring of recruitment is very important and can serve better.

Mr GK Pillai Responds:

• There is a dilemma. In one side, there is state autonomy and on the other there is centre’s role. Policing is not a centre’s issue [subject]. Police recruitment is not free from corruption anywhere in India. But there are examples, last year about 19 thousand persons were recruited in UP and not a single person paid bribe. In Kerala, the chief minister cannot do what Manipur chief minister has done as there is district wise recruitment policy and district quota is there. This policy can be followed by other states.

• On corruption and lack of accountability issues, I think the right to information act is doing wonderful and is to be used. It has been proved very successful and effective. It has to be used widely. It’s a powerful tool.

• About the transparency in peace talks, everybody becomes defensive in such talks and negotiations are done in some kind of privacy. Recently, media reported about certain thing on NSCN-IM talks and it creates misunderstanding. In future we can expect more transparency.

• Pre-conditions for talks: we can talk to a group only if they give up violence. That’s the only condition we have before talk takes place.

• Pradip’s question is important. Now-a-days, a concept is developing world wide called, ‘hybrid’ world. In Maoist area, if civil administration, police and paramilitary forces fail, army will come. And it will be a massive deployment because you cannot afford that area to be a lawless area as 90 per cent of India’s mineral resources are from these areas. This is rough scenery.

• Today, training of police forces at times is taken as a punishment posting. Training is not a priority for police but for the army. Worst people from police are sent for training and worst before are coming out of it. In several police training camps in J and K, there was no sanctioned trainer. Nobody is interested in trainings. But in Army and BSF, training is important. Mental block is there.

• Monitoring of the schemes has to be done by the states. Centre cannot come and monitor the funds for rural development etc. Use RTI for monitoring.

Third Round of Interactions

Belivia (A student of Political Science, Cotton College): The Chief Minister said that we cannot have a uniform policy in Assam due to its ethnic diversities. How do you propose changes in such ethnic scenario for sustaining peace in Assam?

Dr Sameer Das: This is a irony that we are to discuss how to sustain peace but we are focusing more whether army should be withdrawn and more policemen are to be brought into action for maintain law and order. I wish we can focus more on development on what kind of development is required for Northeast and CM has indicated development that generates employment. All of us know that today’s development is taking place where employment generation is low. How we can address the issue of undocumented immigrations” It is reported that immigration has come down specially in Tripura due to fencing. Is it possible to tackle immigration by fencing? Because, in this age of globalization, immigration seems to be unstoppable. There can be two strategies, like to stop the migration completely but on the other hand there is a demand for migrant labour force. How you can make use of this labour without making them citizens. Please enlighten us on that.

Mr Allen Brooks: You have said something on the migration population. Assam is the second largest state in India where Muslim population is the largest with 13 Muslim majority districts. Assamese Muslims are totally discriminated and they are not getting anything under MSDP. With the population increasing, we are facing another problem – that of identity.

Sushanta Talukdar: Media is discussing the problem if illegal migration. India is not taking up this issue with the government of Bangladesh officially. What is the official position on the illegal migration from Bangladesh when Bangladesh is in the denial mode?

Mr GK Pillai Responds:

• There are things coming up and it will take time to settle the complex ethnic issues in Assam. We had a big problem when BLT peace talk and formation of Bodoland took place when Bodos are only 38 per cent percent of the population and they got 2-3 reservation. This is a violation of all democratic norms. Anyone can go the Supreme Court and challenge this. Accommodative spirit has to be there.

• Bangladesh claims that there is no illegal migration taking place from that country. But this is a fact that unofficially in Bangladesh number of passport are twice than the total population. This speaks a lot. Illegal migration is everywhere. In US-Maxico, all infrastructures are there still migration couldn’t be stopped. Migration is taking place in other state not in Assam. The solution can be get Bangladesh economically developed. Fencing alone cannot solve the problem.

• Development comes from employment generation at the grassroots level. Skill development is required in handloom, hospitality sector. There are advantages of this region because people are English speakers. I don’t find a single restaurant in Bangalore without people from the Northeast. People of north east are moving out. Sports in Manipur need promotion. Taking advantage of trade, Korean people are taking people from Northeast India for employment. People have potential in this region. This opportunity must be used. Shillong has big music industry.

Mr Pillai thanked all the participants for the session.

 

SESSION- III

 

The third session was chaired by Mr Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Free Press.

Mr Subir Bhaumik, author and journalist, presented a paper on Dealing with war and peace in Northeast India: Initiatives beyond boundaries. He said that the ‘Look East’ element in Indian foreign policy, over the first decade of this millennium, has tried to address the economic development concerns in the Northeast by (a) getting neighbours to provide surface and sea transport connectivity for the remote region (b) by pushing for markets in neighbouring countries for products from northeast India (c) by opening crucial roads and rail links and by developing a structure for border trade (d) by promoting people-to-people links between the northeast and the countries in its neighbourhood.

Mr Bhaumik said that Bangladesh agreeing to a transit agreement to allow use of its ports for the Northeast is a step forward. Myanmar’s expressed interest in buying petroleum products made at Numaligarh for western regions which are far away from port areas is another step in the right direction. In his paper, he put forward several recommendations:

1. Since Myanmar’s upper reaches are the last major base area for northeastern rebel groups, it is incumbent that India pushes Myanmar to do a “All Clear” type operation to flush out the groups. If Myanmar comes up with the usual excuse of not having enough force level and logistics to sustain a long drawn counter-insurgency operation, India should push for joint operations and effectively take over the operation. Clearence for use of air power or special operations is required, though Myanmar may not give it under Chinese pressure or for nationalist reasons.

2. In that case, India will have to work out a special operations strategy that will involve (a) picking out allies within Burmese undergrounds (b) northeastern rebel groups (c) surrendered rebels

3. India should make special arrangements for Sheikh Hasina’s security and for that of other Awami League leaders to avoid a repeat of 1975.

4. India should move to develop Special Economic Zones (SEZ) on borders to turn them into space for economic growth rather than conflict space. Indian capital must play a major role by investing in these SEZs after its regulations are worked through mutual negotiations.

5. Trans-border cultural groups under Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) should be created to facilitate people to people contact between northeast and neighbours.

Ms Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times deliberated on Constitution of India: Fexible enough to accommodate aspirations of groups like NSCN and ULFA? Addressing the participants, Ms Mukhim said, “The Indian Constitution is no doubt flexible, but the problem is that we have a majoritarian democracy where any changes proposed by minority groups tends to remain unheard. There are several bills pending in the Parliament which are for the greater public good, but they are not easy to push through as we have seen in the case of Lokpal.” She said that though we have Fundamental Rights, it is not that easy to access those rights.

The session was concluded with thought provoking interactive discussions.

  DAY-II: february 14
  SESSION-I
 
  Mr GK Pillai chairs the first session of the second day of the Seminar
 

The first session of the second day was chaired by Mr GK Pillai, Former Union Home Secretary. He started with a brief introduction of the speakers and the key concepts of the topics to be covered by the speakers.

The first speaker was Mr Wasbir Hussain. His paper on Maoism: The New Threat in Northeast India: An Overview chronicles the Maoists’ emergence in the region, the linkages with rebel groups in the vicinity, the front organizations, and the thinking within the security establishment on the turn of events. Mr Hussain forwarded a brief chronology of the Maoist penetration to the Northeast India, citing 1971 as the probable beginning. He said that between 2005 and 2006, the Maiosts set up their base camp in the districts of Goalpara and Sonitpur. By 2009, they started to extend the ‘Red Corridor’ adding new security threat to the northeastern region. The extension of this red corridor has been possible due to nexus of the Maoist with the leading insurgent groups of the region.

 
  CDPS Director Wasbir Hussain presenting his paper on Maoism
 

Mr Hussain said that there are reports of the then military Chief of CPI-Maoist, Malllojula Koteswara Rao, popularly known as Kishenji, having visited Thoubal in Manipur. He is said to have held meeting with the frontline Meitei insurgent group, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and adopted a resolution to back each others’ interests. It was also attended by a team from the ULFA, led by Partha Gogoi. In fact, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has begun a formal probe to get at the bottom of the linkage between the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the main political platform of the Naxalites in the country, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), one of Manipur’s, or for that matter the Northeast’s, most potent insurgent groups, he added.

He said that it is now official that the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh frontier is turning into a Maoist den with cadres of the anti-talk faction of the ULFA headed by Paresh Baruah providing arms training to the fledgling ‘red rebels’. The lid on the organized Maoist activity in the area, mainly in the Lohit and Lower Dibang Valley districts of Arunachal Pradesh, was actually blown in August 2011 when arrested cadres made some startling disclosures. They told interrogators that they used to hold ‘revolutionary meetings’ in their hideouts at regular intervals and that such meetings were attended by anything between 150 to 200 cadres. Revelations such as these had actually triggered the alarm in security circles.

Concluding, Mr Hussain said, “What could actually sustain the ‘red rebels’ is lack of development caused by various factors, including poor accountability and leakage of development funds, and the area’s geography, the porous borders that the region shares with Myanmar, China, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. With frontline ethnic insurgent groups either on a ceasefire or in advanced stage of peace negotiations with the Government, the anti-peace talk factions of groups like the ULFA could use these Maoists as force multipliers. If an effective security and development strategy is not adopted, the Maoists could well come to fill the void created by ethnic insurgent groups giving up arms and joining the mainstream. Instead of sitting and discussing an anti-Naxal or anti-Maoist strategy later, the authorities would do well to devise a development action plan to give youths in areas like eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district or the Lohit and Dibang Valley districts in adjoining Arunachal Pradesh jobs and livelihood options, besides providing connectivity to the far flung areas. Initiatives like these are overdue. After all, it has been 65 years since India had attained independence.”

Dr Samir Das, Prof. and Chair, Department of Political Science, Calcutta University, delivered a speech on Pull Factors for a Maoist Rebellion in the Northeast. He stressed on the reasons and strategies of the Maoist presence in the region. In his paper Dr Das referred to the Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik’s comment that Maiosts have sneaked into some of the regions of the Northeast - taking advantage of their remoteness and established their bases in the bordering districts of Dhemaji and Tinsukia in Assam and in Lohit and Diwang valley of Arunachal Pradesh. The Governor also admitted that the Maoists have succeeded in infiltrating into the ranks of various students’ organizations and tea labourers’ outfits, he added.

His paper argues that peace established through pacification whether by ‘laying down of arms’ or by ‘ceasefire’ or by ‘suspension of operations’ or any of their combination hit its limit insofar as the peace that it produces is constantly threatened by the fear of war. In the context of the Northeast, it is important that we differentiate between different kinds of peace, more fundamentally between peace by pacification and peace that respects the triadic principles of rights, justice and democracy.

It is in the context of peace by pacification that a reassessment of the security scenario is regarded as necessary. The Maoists are said to have tried to gain an entry at two levels: first at the underground level, by way of forging tactical alliances with some insurgent groups and second at the over ground level, by penetrating into the ranks of various civil society organizations. We argue that tactical alliances will be successful in inspiring and organizing ‘specific movements’ in an isolated way while the Maoists are likely to find it difficult – if not impossible – to forge any strategic unity amongst all these movements and mobilize people along class lines – one of their avowed objectives. In fact, we argue that in the context of India’s Northeast such short-term successes might have an adverse impact on the avowed objective of forging strategic unity on a pan-Indian scale. The social and political template is still characterized by ethnic strife and demands for national self-determination and the Maoists will not like to be identified with any particular ethnic group or community exclusively demanding self-determination.

He said that Maoists will seek to gain access to the new over ground civil society organizations that have emerged by way of rallying around such issues as tenancy rights, procurement of food grains, protection against flood, earthquake and other natural calamities, right to a corruption-free society, so on and so forth. Civil society in Assam has come of age in recent years in the sense that it has been able to send into the backstage ethnic issues and the exclusivist demands of the ethnic groups and nationalities. Once they gain access, the Maoists will try their best to appropriate and monopolize them – a move that is likely to be resisted by those who seek to retain the irreducibly plural character of the nascent civil society in Assam. “Merely branding the entire civil society in Assam as ‘Maoist’ will not do. It is important that the civil society develops its internal strength in order to withstand any possible onslaught on it. Disengagement from civil society will not be a feasible proposition”, he concluded.

The session was followed by the Chairperson’s comment. Mr Pillai summarised:

• Peace can be established by pacification.
• Peace has to be made sustainable.
• Differentiation has to be made between real peace and peace. Real peace in Assam can be established by reassessment of security scenario in Assam. It has to be at the over ground level.
• The Maoists are trying hard to appropriate and monopolise civil society.
• The civil society must develop its internal strength.
• The Maoist will give more importance on building tactical alliances for spectacular gain.
• The Maoist’s short term gain may show their long term objectives.

 
 

Dr Samir Das addresing the participants during the first session

 

DISCUSSION:

The discussion began with Mr. G.M. Srivastava’s (former DGP, Assam) comment:
• The Maoists have their hub from Bajali to Baihata Charali in Assam.
• The Adivasi groups have started surfacing in Asssam. They have cronology with the Tribal groups of Jharkhand.
• The Maoists are trying to build Northeast as a buffer state. Today, if PLA could achieve their target, they will demand separate state with a different model. They will make entire India into one separate nation based on their ideology. It is going to be permanent.

During the discussion, Mr Abhinav Borbara, a student of Cotton College, Ms Patricia Mukhim and Mr Pradip Phanjoubam posed questions to the presenters. Some of the relevant questions are:

• Does CPI(M) play any role in penetration of the Maoist in Assam Valley?
• Has it become easier for the government to level the anti-dam protester as Maoist?
• Where does Nepal be placed in this whole scenario?
• If civil society is strengthened, is there any guarantee that another movement will not be starting up/ How can it be balanced?

Commenting on the above questions, Mr Wasbir Hussain said that the Maoists themselves reveal an ideology. They comprise of mix ethnic group and it is difficult to indoctrinate them. Regarding the history of their development he said that during the Assam movement also the Maoists were there and they may be regarded as the offspring of the ULFA. Adding to Mr. Hussain, Mr Srivastava said that even before the formation of the ULFA the RCPI was there but it was like the SFI. They were seen to be operating from Shillong in Meghalaya. Mr. Hussain further said that soon after ‘Operation All Clear’ the Bhutanese government was not worried about any other insurgent group other than the KLO, only because it was acting as the bridge between Maoist and other groups. Even the Bhutanese Marxist Party is troubling the Bhutanese Government.

Addressing the queries, Dr Samir Das said that his presentation was basically theoretical and supporting the view of Mr G M Srivastava he said that the ultimate aim of the Maoist is to overthrow the Indian state and to do so they are trying to establish their foothold in Northeast Region. They are of pan Indian nature and they may not accept the nationalist question as held by the ULFA. He said that the anti-dam protestors are not Maoist. Civil Society is an ambit where multiple voices are heard. The Moaists are making use of it because through the civil society voices they could stress themselves. As regards to branding of the Maoist as anti-dam protestor he said that the anti-dam movement started at a time when all the insurgent groups are over-ground. In that sense, the ULFA may also be behind the protest or the KMSS may be branded as the ULFA. Adding to that, he said that Maoists are penetrating the region with the help of other forces. They are engaged in appropriating space in patches. They will not monopolize the whole space, so, instantly it does not bring any alarm.

SUMMARY

The Chairperson Mr. G.K. Pillai summarized:

• The presence of the Maoist is phenological.
• It is high time to monitor the Maoists closely
• Their presence in the region is a wake up call for Indian Democracy to take up a series of action to contain it.
• The Maoists are taking help of the civil society and the intellectuals who are integral part of the civil society. The intellectual staying underground are extending support to this group and justifying their acts. The civil society is working as the front organization in justifying their activity.
• The CPI(M)’s Central Committee members are underground member of the Maoist.
• In dealing with the problem, there is lack of body sources, i.e, there is lack of police forces.
• The Maoists have a kind of ideological domination and if somebody does not go by their way, they don’t give a second thought in killing them.
• The Maoist movement is for a complete state.
• The only way to deal with it is through bridging the gap between the representatives and the people.

 

SESSION - II

 

The second session was chaired by Ms Patricia Mukhim, Editor of The Shillong Times. The first presenter for this session was Dr Alka Acharya, Professor of Chinese Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and her paper titled India’s Look East Policy & China: Can a trade or Business Initiative Succeed in Reducing Conflict in Northeast India.

Dr Acharya started with the remark that Look East Policy is a buzz word today and China’s trade initiative today can bring a new shift in India’s Look East Policy. It can have a larger implication for India in general and the Northeast in particular. Trade can create enormous space for peace but the problem is what business would be fruitful for this region as well as the entire India. It is because the region is known for its geo-political problems. Her paper has tried to throw light on the internal dynamics of the region with respect to the Look East Policy. For conveniences, she divided the whole paper into three parts looking into three aspects:

• Contextualizing India’s Look East Policy in global level.
• Indo-China relation.
• Relation between Conflict and Trade.

In the context of India’s Look East Policy at the global level, it has two faces:
1. Reactive.
2. Pro-active.

• There is increasing centrality of China in India. India’s policy is of domain class. It has created a kind of new regionalism in the South East Asia and East Asia.
• From 1980’s onwards there is a shift in the whole global economic functions. The shift was towards capitalism where this area emerged as a manufacturing jacket. Here China also emerged as a key player in economic regionalism. In the mean time, the Northeast is assumed to be facilitating as a buffer zone for trans-border trade.
• The rationale for such a statement lies in the fact that the last decade has shown tremendous growth in the South Asian Region and Northeast region is surrounded by it. e.g The Greater Mekong Sub division. By this time the mainland South Asia and South East Asia have started this launch (GNS & ASEAN), India started its Look East Policy.
• Over the last decade China has channelized 11 million dollar into Multi Countries areas. So, it is extending its physical connectivity.

Addressing the relation between trade and conflict, Dr Acharya proposed ‘Commerce breed Peace’. The notion of trade actually propagates perpetual peace. According to leading theories, trade and conflict have either ‘no effect’ or ‘large effect’.

• Moreover, there are some problems associated with it. They are:
1. Trade is an independent factor and subject to political confrontations.
2. Trade facilitates conflict reduction but it increases cost.

The following suggestions have been forwarded by Dr. Acharya:
• On the larger degree of economic consideration by the government only the reduction of conflict through trade will be possible.
• The nexus between corrupt official and the businessman which actually enhances conflict, has to be contained.
• Entry into the undisturbed area is also required.
• It will require the Indian state to explore and facilitate trade through local initiatives which may to a great extent help in reducing conflict.

The second presentation was on India’s Approach to Reaching Peace with Insurgents: Is a Moratorium on Peace Talks Needed? It was delivered by Dr Monirul Hussain, Head, Department of Political Science & Sociology, Gauhati University. Mr Hussain said that there has been a number of peace accords signed with the insurgents groups in the last few decades, but the stable peace has not been realized in the region. He held that in order to have effective results, the following things are to be considered:

• The question of accountability.
• The question of Democracy (It has deepened or been squeezed).
• How representative is the peace accords?
• Has it enhanced the quality of the citizenship?
• Whether it ensures justice to the people?

Mr. Hussain added that since Independence of India, Assam has been constantly affected by two facts. They are: 1. Large scale violence (often taking the form of genocide) 2. Almost all the perpretrators of violenc are moving around freely. So, basically these two things should be addressed by the peace accords. He further said that Assam Accord has become redundant. He said that Assam is a common homeland of all the communities. Similarly, Bodo Terrotorial Councils’ exclusion of other community in BTC will create a kind of partition which has fragmented the society into Bodos and Non-Bodos and within the Bodos as well. It has happened due to under representation of the non-Bodos in the BTC. It has not been as per the Bodo Accords. It is also due to the fact that when at a time where in most parts of India Panchayati Raj is working, the Northeast region is accommodating territoriality on ethnic basis. This actually hampers the participation of a large section of the people both ethnic and non ethnic. It has also been stated that most of the members of such councils are nominated, hence it is not democratic. It has squeezed democratic essence which is also a result of defective accords. Further, no accord was given due consideration to justice. Based on these, he forwarded the following suggestions.

• The Peace Accord should be accountable to the people.
• It should accommodate greater representation to make it more democratic.
• It should be an effective mechanism to deliver justice to larger section of the populace.

DISCUSSION:

Addressing Dr. Alka Acharya, Mr. GK Pillai commented that Indo-China Trade has become China-Northeast India Trade. It is growing at a faster pace with the benefits going no-where. It has been similar with the case of Yunan Province, which has been used by China for trade but the place virtually ended as a dumping ground for the products now. In dealing with this relation the role of the state governments of the region also has to be looked into. Moreover, what products are actually coming into the region has to be minutely observed. Addressing to Acharya, Mr. Wasbir Hussain and Mr. Pradip Panjoubam enquired:

• In the context of trading with northeastern region can Bangladesh play a key role?
• Does India-China trading will not have social reparations? (Mr. Phanjoubam added that can the ethnic sense be ruled out in this context ? will not there be social tensions regarding location of the benefits of such trading? Will the gain in such trading be clear?)

Addressing Mr Wasbir Hussain, Dr Acharya said that without Northeast, the Trade between India and China is not possible and Indian Government cannot jump over Northeast to other regions. For effective trade, two things are to be considered: 1. India’s role in China and, 2. To what extent the competition between both the countries will go on, and, will there be a point where both the countries will be relatively satisfied with their position and there will be no need for any pushing factors to boost the economy.

Addressing Pradip Phanjoubam’s query, Dr. Acharya said that it will not happen immediately. In this context, she cited the example of Nathula in Sikkim.

DISSCUSSANT’S SPEECH

The chairperson invited Dr John Sema, Department of Political Science, Nagaland University to deliver his speech as a discussant. His brief lecture can be summarized thus:

• For effective implementation of the moratoriums Government of India and civil society should not stay merely as spectators and have to be vigilant in making policy decisions.
• As regards to the Assam Accord and the Bodo Accord , both have been a failure in accommodating the aspiration of the people at large.
• Government of India has failed to look into this contentious issue.
• In the context of Naga Peace Accord, when it was initiated it was assumed to be unconditional but on monitoring, it has been found that it was full of conditions.
• The Naga issue has been the longest one of its kind with longest ceasefire and no amicable solution. Government’s apathy is the main reason for such a condition.
Mr. Sema further added that the discussion should be more inclusive or it should be completely stopped. In Nagaland, the newly formed government is a puppet one and the Central government has been showering money to maintain such a government. If such condition continues, then no solution will be available.

DISCUSSION

The discussion continued with comments from Mr Wasbir Hussain. Referring to moratorium on peace talks, he said that while signing the agreement much importance was given to the DHD(J) Group, but once the group signed ceasefire agreement it started moving in a snails pace. In the meanwhile, newer insurgent groups were coming up. The process continued bringing no solution to the forefront.

Commenting on the ongoing discussion, Mr. Pillai said that it is not enough to give economic packages to the insurgents groups. Multiple negotiations with various groups have to be taken up. Packages only boost the insurgents groups to accelerate further violence.

Counter commenting Mr. Pillai’s speech Ms. Rosemary Dzuvichu, Assistant Prof., Nagaland University said that Government is not at all serious about the Naga issue. She claimed that the voices from the grass root are always ignored by the Government. Central government is always refusing flagship programmes and never taken up serious monitoring of the issues.

Responding to the presentation of Dr. Alka Acharya, Mr. Gaurav Gogoi, co-founder Youth Forum on Foreign Policy commented that taking in consideration of the changing geo-political situation of the country, there is increasing apprehension. Is there any way to lessen the apprehension? In terms of better results what kind of infrastructure development can be taken of? How Northeast region can leverage changing geo-political situation to boost the economy? Answering his comments and queries Dr. Acharya said that there has to be different strategies based on different ground to boost the economy of this region. The region is in transitional stage and the Government has to take the first step to revamp the economic situation of the region through different government initiatives.

Addressing Dr Monirul Hussain, Dr NG Mahanta enquired that if in the name of ethnic identity the territoriality will keep on increasing, so , Is there any institutional alternatives to it? Why not the names of such territories be generic neutral? Responding to the query Dr. Hussain said that Bodos are actually multi-religious and practices Hinduism, Chritianity, Animist religion as well as Hinduism plus Animist. When Bodo accord was signed Mr. L.K. Advani was the then Home Minister and he made the mistake by including only the Hindu Bodos and excluding others which has serious repercussion afterwards. In that case the NDFB was excluded on the basis of Hindutva. Adding to his response, Mr. Pillai commented that local languages play a very important role in it.

Addressing the question of leveraging the dynamic geo-political situation and boosting of Indian economy Mr Hussain commented that government is leveraging through development strategies of constructing Hydro-electric projects. The political leadership of the area has to be educated. The Government should take up broader view of winning elections. Adding to this Dr Acharya said that local concerns and National superiority has to be compatible.

Summary of Session – II

The discussion was followed by the summary of the Session – II by the chairperson Ms. Patricia Mukhim. She summarised the following points:

• There is very little understanding on the part of Chinas motive, i.e., what is their main policy towards Northeast India.
• The development of the economy is lacking due to lack of our own investment.
• Before making a policy for Northeast, it needs to be sorted out that in any sense of business here is there privatisation of the common has started? What type of business in real is going on? Is there more involvement of the mafias for which the benefits are not percolating to the masses?
• People must be politically vigilant and conscious. They should be aware of what has been signed in an accord. Their perception should be clear and that initiative should be taken by the people themselves because in any case it is the common people who are the victims.
• Civil Society is the basis of a healthy nation, there must be enough space for their voices.
• Regarding the voices of impunity, it is only the intellectuals whose voices are heard, the common people hardly have a space. It really put the common people in a state of jeopardy.
• Government of India should listen to the voices of the common people first.

 

SESSION - III

 
  Dr Rajen Singh, Dr Sheila Bora, Dr NG Mahanta and Gaurav Gogoi (from left) during the third session
 

The concluding session was chaired by Dr Sheila Bora, Prof (Retd.) Dibrugarh University and currently, visiting Prof. Gauhati University. This was the concluding session of the two-day National Seminar and there were three papers to be presented in this session.

The first paper of the session titled Shifting Terrain: Conflict Dynamics in Northeast India was presented by Dr NG Mahanta, Peace and Conflict Studies Centre, Gauhati University. The paper was an attempt to analyze the changing contours and dynamics of conflict in the Northeast region.

In his paper Dr Mahanta tried to focus on the changing nature of the conflict in Northeast India. He made a modest attempt to see the changes in the identity crystallization process of the northeast region since the dawn of independence highlighting the changing or the continuum of conflict in the region.

The paper highlighted the following phases of conflict in the region—first phase of Conflict as a conflict over a distinct regional identity. The second phase of Conflict can be described as assertion for resources, language and identity (1947-1979). The paper looked at the third phase of Conflict (1979 -2005) as contesting through regional movements & militancy.

In the paper Dr Mahanta argued that the fourth phase of conflict marks a paradigmatic shift from the previous phases. Issues for conflict and confrontation with the Indian State have drastically changed in the post 2005 period. Issues of governance, land allotment, rehabilitation, displacement, and transparency in administration, people’s participation, and community resources have become more crucial than before. People want development—but have started asking critical questions –“development by whom, for whom, who will be the beneficiaries and at what cost”. Movements that have addressed these people’s issues have become more popular and sustainable in comparison to the armed groups who have perennially neglected these issues for a dream of independent Sovereign homeland.

People in the region are seeking for freedom of violence and war which led to emergence of the interest group like the KMSS. It strengthen the issue of land rights, preservation of ecology , de-militarization etc which reflect that at the larger context the conflict in the Northeastern region the nature of conflict has shifted from being ethnic to non- ethnic. Northeast which is known as the ‘Zomia land’ will be disappearing very soon at the outset of development activities of the government without proper addressing of the emerging issues. It is high time that the state has to be pressurized for sustainable peace and durable disorder. People have to voice for proper representation, land, ideas and the question of who will rule Assam, he added.

The second speaker was Mr Gaurav Gogoi, Co-Founder, Youth Forum on Foreign Policy. He presented a paper on Development: A Key For Sustaining Peace In Northeast India. Mr Gogoi said that the Northeast is in urgent need of a comprehensive development model to address the issues of peace and security. “This model will need to focus on three fundamental planks of education, agriculture and culture. It is imperative that steps are taken in these three areas to assuage the insecurities of those communities which are being left behind in the development path. These initiatives must lead to stronger rural economies and greater employment. The latter is especially important as the region will see a greater expansion of people living in the age bracket of 13- 25 years. The systemic failures of our education system and our agricultural sector must be resolved and a renewed emphasis on culture and heritage is required”, he said.

According to Mr Gogoi, livelihood opportunities in agricultural sector need to be incentivized for young people. Steps like highlighting successful case studies of profitable youth-own farm-based enterprises would be extremely beneficial. Policy-making needs to evolve to include consultations with young farmers. In education, the mainstream curriculum should be evolved to include skill development and vocational courses. Vocational institutes should be established to reduce the number of people with educational degree but no jobs. While hard to measure, cultural harmony is very important for the Northeast because it is such a diverse region of India with people belonging to different communities and having vastly different dialects. “Steps are required to preserve our diverse languages and build our appreciation of multiple cultures. An environment of truth and reconciliation is required amongst communities that have committed human atrocities on each other”, he added. He commented:

• No meaningful research has been done in this part on development strategies.
• Development can help to sustain Peace in a larger scale in Northeast India.
• Development strategies have to be local and contextual.
• Revamping of rural connectivity, rural health, revamping rural agro based industries and educating the rural masses can help to a great extent to sustain Peace in Northeast.
• Leakages of development funds, unsustainable peace building and weak economic development are the main reason behind upsurge of conflict in Northeast.
• The response to conflict should not be harsh security, militarization or ceasefire agreements, because such activities aggravate the situation rather than containing it.

Further adding to his comments Mr Gaurav Gogoi said that “Development before peace” is the new mantra to contain violence and sustain peace in Northeast India.

The third speaker of the session was Dr Rajen Singh from Manipur University. He forwarded his presentation on Elusive Peace In Northeast: The Manipur Case. Dr Singh started his talk with a brief historical account of the Manipur Kingdom which started way back in 1891 and became a full fledged state in 1949. He was mainly concentrating on the Meiteis of Manipur. He stated:

• Meiteis cover 10 per cent of the total population of Manipur and geographically they are concentrated in central Manipur covering 74 per cent of the total land area.
• He further said that all the insurgency related incidents in Manipur are regulated mainly by eight groups which are of leftist ideology and has been assumed to have Chinese connections.
• Chinese have always been interested in Manipur. They are conducting studies on Northeast through Institute of Southasian Studies in Yunan.

Addressing the question of how the insurgents in this area are sustaining themselves he said that it has been possible through “Democratization of Corruption”. He further said regarding peace initiative in the region:

• Peace initiatives have not been official
• Since 1972 there has been 19 Chief Ministers and every time peace has been used as a tool to protect their chair, no CM ever had taken it seriously.
• The Government has not been sure with whom should they start peace talk, should it be PLA or UNLF.
• The State has never taken open initiatives and handing peace has been only an inter-personal relationship. The main culprit is the political situation of Manipur.
• For sustaining peace, there should be a kind of Central Institutional Body.
• The insurgents groups are interested in peace dialogues and establishment of peace in Northeast provided there are unconditional dialogues between the insurgent groups and the Government.
• The main problem in the Manipur case is that each group represents one interest group. There is distrust among the groups and peace eludes where there is no trust.
• The Civil Society in Manipur is divided. They do not communicate with each other to solve the problem
• Recruitment drive in Government jobs can play a strategic role in establishment of peace in Manipur. Here, the model followed as in Kerela can be taken into consideration of having reservation district wise.
• Effective rehabilitation programmes of the insurgent groups can also help to a great extent in stabilizing peace in Northeast.

DISCUSSION:

This was the last discussion session of the two-day seminar.

The first query of this session was from Mr. Wasbir Hussain who asked in which way does the shift in the nature of conflict in the Northeast has taken place. He further inquired what kind of institution will work in such a situation. Answering the query Dr. NG Mahanta said that shifting terrain is not absolute. The older issues are continuing as well as newer issues are emerging. The issue of identity, control over resources, concept of indigenous is still alluring, but 2005 onwards, the centrality of the issue has been like what have not been addressed earlier. Civil Society, students issue, land issue, riverine rights etc. are the new issues which are gaining importance. The issues now are basically non-ethnic.

Commenting on the presentation made by Dr. Singh, Mr. Pillai said that most important problem in dealing with the insurgent groups is that all groups are cousins and there is nexus between the Government and the insurgents groups. As a result, the leaders of these groups are never touched.

Mr. Hussain enquired to Mr. Gogoi that though development is taking place at a very faster rate, who actually are the beneficiaries of this development? Is there any mechanism which will help development reach to the unreached? Answering his query Mr. Gogoi responded that the development strategies have to highlight the priority. Development should start from local level. The right formula has to be worked out.

Addressing Mr Gogoi, Dr Mahanta said that in a society people are either giver or receiver, but for that capability of the people have to be enhanced, what strategies have been sorted out for that? Adding to Dr. Mahanta, Mr. G.M. Srivastava asked whether the kind of development taking place in Assam is enough to prevent conflict or it is such that taking chance of these groups the Maoists are penetrating Assam. Responding to both, Mr. Gogoi said that the development strategies have to be unique to Assam. Democracy has to be more participatory and dependency syndrome has to be abandoned.

Summary of the Session:

The last session was summarized by Dr Sheila Bora:

• In the Northeastern region of India the nature of conflict has been seen to be shifting from ethnic based to non-ethnic with newer issues coming to be confronted by the society and also the Government.
• Development is the only way to effectively deal with the problems of insurgency in Northeast. More importance has to be given on rural development.
• The problem of the Manipur has also been same as government has been apathetic to the issues and there is rising closeness of the people with insurgent groups which has hampered sustainable peace.

 

WRAP UP

The seminar was summed up by Mr Wasbir Hussain. He said though dialogues are taking place, sustaining peace has become a challenge. Mr Hussain said that the two-day seminar was a deliberate effort of CDPS. It was a kind of self-evaluating seminar. Thanking the British High Commission for their support in conducting the seminar, he further said that there has been numerous efforts to sustain peace in the Northeast but the main challenge is to consolidate peace in this region. Therefore, new dimensions challenging security is manifesting into a reality. The ‘Red Corridor’ has reached Assam and Manipur. So, it is the urgent need to realize the new dimensions of conflict in Northeast India and in doing so Dr. Mahanta’s paper proved to be beneficial. Thanking him for a provoking paper he further thanked all the participants in the seminar right from the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Mr. GK Pillai, Dr. Alka Acharya, Ms. Patricia Mukhim, Dr. Monirul Hussain, Mr GM Srivastava, Mr S.P. Kar, Mr P.J. Baruah, Mr Arun Sarma, Dr I.S. Mumtaza and all the student participants from Cotton College, B. Borooah College and Handique Girls’ College and Gauhati University. Finally he conveyed his thanks to the CDPS team, Hotel Gateway Grandeur, Security establishment and the print and visual media.