The visit of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sri Prakash Jaiswal on Thursday, October 20 to review the blood let arising out of the ethnic violence in Karbi Anglong District and that after almost three weeks only goes to show the complete neglect towards the Northeast region by Power Centres in New Delhi. The Dimasa-Karbi ethnic flare-up has already left many dead and countless injured with many innocent victims now left to survive in refugee shelter camps across neighboring areas.
What has baffled most people though is the lack of government initiative both by the local administration and the political leadership of the Tarun Gogoi led Congress Party. If at all the State Government has any iota of concern it should take immediate remedial steps to contain the situation from further exploding. Both the Central and the State governments’ should help restore normalcy, punish the guilty, and also help in constituting people’s peace committees comprising members from both the Dimasa and Karbi communities so as to restore mutual trust.
The entire chain of genocide along ethnic lines is most unfortunate and while intelligence reports point towards a turf war between the armed outfits of the two communities, common people from both side of the divide are skeptic about such a theory and blame certain ‘external forces’ for being responsible. The involvement of vested interest individual, groups or parties therefore cannot be ruled out. All this calls for an independent inquiry commission so that people at least can come closer to the truth.
For a long term solution though, much needs to be done in order that the impending issues of nationality, ethnicity and cultural identity that have dogged this volatile region is properly assessed and addressed.
There is no simple mechanical solution to the problems such as the one prevailing in strife torn Karbi Anglong district. Several factors conjure up; the uneven economic development and neglect of the hinterlands; failure in devolution of powers into the grass roots; denial of ethnic and cultural aspirations of the people. Further in the Post-1947 accession continuing governments sitting at New Delhi had approached the issue with shortsightedness by creating devices of constitutional arrangements for either a degree of self governance or special economic assistance. Neither seems to have effectively worked owing to lack of resources, little real powers, absence of public participation and the lack of political will in properly implementing such autonomy packages.
The ethnic question is very complex in the northeast in general and Assam in particular and needless to say the indigenous communities have perpetually experienced the problems of land alienation, poverty, indebtedness, and severe unemployment, and economic exploitation, cultural and political repression. To add to these woes is the retrogressive nature of the present day middle class leadership dominating the landscape of Assam politics. People’s right to traditional land, forest, language, script, culture, economic development and political autonomy deserve better understanding from the powers that be. What is required in this particular context is a democratic solution more then anything else in order that sustainable peace and development is restored in this region.