Building Synergies: The Northeast & India’s New Government
Resource-rich Northeast India has huge hydro-energy potential, oil and gas, coal, limestone, forest wealth, fruits and vegetables, flowers, herbs and aromatic plants, and rich flora and fauna, many of the extremely rare variety. However, even after 67 years of independence, this region is under developed, compared to other parts of the country. With 12 major insurgent groups active in the region, in addition to various other small insurgent groups and factions, the northeastern region is yet to be completely out of the grip of insurgency. Under-development in the region has been fuelling insurgency, with 7,704 insurgency-related incidents reported in the region between 2007 and 2014 (till March 2014), resulting in the death of 1,650 civilians during the same period.
Government of India has been providing special financial packages for development of the region, but the intended development is yet to be witnessed. The Union minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER), Gen (retd) V K Singh, had said in August 2014 that funds worth about Rs 13,000 crore meant for development of the region have remained unused over the years.
Since the security situation in the region has been volatile over the years, effective focus needs to be laid on this front. To tackle and perhaps end the local insurgencies, we suggest an immediate moratorium on peace talks by the government with insurgent groups, except continuing with the ongoing talks. A new security dimension has been created with the extension of the “red corridor” by the Maoists to Northeast India. Developmental and administrative measures need to be taken to tackle the Maoists without waiting for the rebellion to grow.
Another disturbing development is the coming of light of the fact that Islamist terror groups from across the border are making their presence felt in the region. While meting out adequate punishment to those found guilty, it must also be noted that the Muslim community in general in Assam has been practitioners of moderate Islam and have no history of engaging in any serious form of radical Islamist activity.
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