rebels’ arms surrender no cause for cheer
|POSTED ON 2 FEBRUARY 2012
DIRECTOR, Centre for Development
and Peace Studies
If anyone is euphoric over the surrender of some 200
weapons by a band of 676 rebel cadres belonging to seven
militant groups in the State, it is the Assam Police.
A senior Assam Police official has been quoted by a
section of the media as saying that the State has been
purged of all ‘established’ insurgent groups
with the laying of arms on 24 January 2012 in Guwahati.
A daily quoted Additional Director General of Police
(Special Branch) Khagen Sarma as saying: “What
is left are splinter groups and breakaway factions of
groups in ceasefire. They have nothing but nuisance
value…” He was also quoted as saying the
Government would now fast-track the peace process and
reach settlements with the rebel groups at the earliest.
If one is to take this statement by the official seriously,
it would mean that Assam has become free from insurgency.
And if ‘splinter groups, deserters and breakaway
factions’ are the only remaining problem, then
the security establishment in Assam has to deal with
the following: the anti-talk ULFA faction headed by
Paresh Baruah; the NDFB faction headed by Ranjan Daimary;
the DHD (Dilip Nunisa faction) that is nowhere near
signing a peace deal; the new Dimasa splinter bands
of armed men; the KLNLF in Karbi Anglong, and a few
others. If that isn’t enough, Assam now has a
Maoist rebellion at hand, a rebellion that is threatening
to assume dangerous proportions because the ‘red
rebels’ have already established links with the
anti-talk ULFA faction and Meitei insurgent groups like
Dealing with these splinter groups, deserters and breakaway
factions’ aside, of course, the Maoists, is going
to be a tall order for the security forces in Assam.
And the worst possible scenario is that these groups
could well be granted the much needed legitimacy by
none other than the police or a section within the police
force or the Government itself. Then what happens—yet
another round of so-called truce and a so-called peace
process. The cycle simply goes on. What today is sought
to be dismissed as nothing but ‘splinter groups,
deserters and breakaway factions’ could well be
the key players of insurgent politics tomorrow with
the Government joining the game of playing peace makers.
Both Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Union Home Minister
P. Chidambaram, who flew down from Delhi, sought to
describe the arms laying event ‘historic.’
But what is ‘historic’ is difficult to say
because it is hard to believe that the Government has
any definite blueprint by way of a formula to each of
these rebel groups with which to resolve the problems.
The groups whose cadres laid down arms on 24 January
were the Santhal Tiger Force, Adivasi People's Army,
All Adivasi National Liberation Army, Kuki Liberation
Army, United Kukigram Defence Army, Kuki Revolutionary
Army, and the Hmar People's Convention. The Birsa Commando
Force, and Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam, were ‘active
participants’ at the event but did not actually
lay down weapons.
If anything, the so-called deal with the UPDS in Karbi
Anglong was a fiasco. What is it that the Government
has given that is anything substantial in that deal?
The UPDS did not even get to contest the Council polls
with an interim administration in place unlike the erstwhile
Bodo Liberation Tiger rebels who got to rule at the
new politico-administrative structure in an interim
arrangement before facing the electorate. Going by precedent,
one is not euphoric about 24 January's arms laying event.
Even the media hype was missing. Chief Minister Gogoi
and Union Home Minister Chidambaram delivered boring
and lackluster speeches. Actually, they came, saw but
did not commit anything.
If nothing concrete comes out of shows like the one
on 24 January, insurgency can never be eliminated from
a state like Assam. The Government must come up with
serious solutions, solutions that have the mechanism
to last and prevent a new insurgency from brewing. Unless
that happens, Assam will have to live with insurgency
for all times to come. O yes, don’t we know that
some people in the political and security establishment
want that insurgency should linger and do not come to
(courtesy: The Sentinel)