The north eastern state of Assam has been undergoing tremendous fissures due to the high voltage terrorist activities for many decades. The fragile political situation compounded by the natural calamities and underdevelopment has taken heavy toll on the state. Lack of strong political leadership combined with the total neglect of the centre has made the terrorist control impossible. After Naxal violence, North Eastern terror groups pose major challenge to the Indian security system.

The porous border with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar has been the worst troubles. Luckily Bangladesh government is ready to cooperate with the Indian security agencies to curb the anti-Indian forces. It is now up to the home minister and his officers to put an end to the terror menace in north-east and save the Indian paradise.

Times of India writes on 4 December 2009

Good news has finally followed bad in Assam. The Nalbari attack and just a few days before that, the burning of 12 tankers and derailment of four

train bogies at Jorhat had created the expectation that the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) would ramp up its activities. But with the detention of Arabinda Rajkhowa, one of ULFA’s founders and its current ‘chairman’, the scenario has been turned on its head. If ever there was an opportunity for New Delhi to make progress in the state, this is it. ULFA’s pressure points have become apparent in the recent past, perversely enough after the Nalbari attack. The contradictory crosstalk that emerged from some of the organisation’s lower level leaders at that point highlighted the tension between the pro-talks and anti-talks factions within ULFA. Rajkhowa’s capture and New Delhi’s offer of safe passage he is firmly in the pro-talks camp provides an opportunity to focus on this.

The larger takeaway, however, may be about the north-east as a whole. By some accounts, there are over 120 militant groups operating in the region. At least 30 of them demand sovereignty. Factor in highly porous national borders and it becomes apparent that these are not problems New Delhi can resolve entirely on its own. That is why recent events in Bangladesh are heartening. Rajkhowa was not the first arrest. Biswa Mohan Deb Barman, National Liberation Front of Tripura president, as well as two other ULFA leaders and a Lashkar operative have been captured in the past few days.

These point to a new sensitivity to Indian concerns on the part of Dhaka. Without Dhaka cracking down on cross-border safe havens and training facilities, any north-east initiative by New Delhi would be made more difficult. Cooperation on the part of Nepal and Myanmar is a must as well. The revised extradition treaty with the former could be useful here. Admittedly, it may face hurdles due to domestic opposition in Nepal, but New Delhi must persist with low-key efforts to push it through. As for Myanmar, a potential way forward is one that was, in fact, suggested by Dhaka in 2008 when it mooted a counterterrorism treaty between all three countries.

But these initiatives will amount to little if New Delhi lacks political will in engaging rebel groups who want to talk, while putting pressure on those who don’t. Insurgency cannot be defeated unless at least a section of insurgents are weaned away and offered an honourable exit. The offer of unconditional talks with ULFA is a good one, but it is just the beginning. There should be enough of both carrots and sticks to bring rebel groups to the table.


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