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�Civil society equally responsible for peace�

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 13 � President of Asam Sahitya Sabha Rong Bong Terang today underscored the need to build on the return of some normalcy in the strife-torn NC Hills and Karbi Anglong following the surrender of the DHD (J) militants.

�Efforts by governments and militant outfits apart, how civil society seizes the initiative and gives the message to the warring groups would be critical to achieving lasting peace in the region,� Terang said at the �Dialogue: Road to Peace in Assam�s Hill Districts�, organised by the Centre for Development and Peace Studies at the Indian Institute of Bank Management (IIBM).

Speaking as the chief guest, the eminent litt�rateur said that the improving situation in NC Hills was a most welcome development but the real challenge of restoring complete normalcy had to be shared by civil society, governments and militant outfits.

�Boosting the district�s development process, especially surface communication, is also something that can hasten the return of peace. Tripura

was once ravaged by insurgency but is now quite peaceful, and a lot of credit for this turnaround goes to development,� Terang said.

Prof Udayon Mishra, in his address, termed militancy and ethnic unrest as complex and deep-rooted issues, saying that those were symptoms of a failed state which had abdicated its obligations of ensuring distributed justice, rule of law and development.

�Ethnic nationalism has historical, economic and social dimensional aspects which need to be addressed to resolve the complex issues�civil society also has a responsibility to influence militant groups,� he said.

Mishra also stressed the need for strengthening the democratic process by rooting out corruption besides reviving the traditional institutions.

The round table conference involving civil society leaders from the two districts later called upon the Government to put the process of peace talks with various militant groups in the area on a fast track, urging the authorities to set a time-bound action plan to bring about an acceptable solution to the problems in the two districts.

The day-long meeting also adopted several resolutions including one calling upon the Government to ascertain the views of all communities and groups, including women, who live in the two districts while working towards finding solution towards various problems, particularly on common issues. It further resolved that the civil society groups in the districts try and form a non-political common platform of all ethnic groups and other people in the districts which can work towards ethnic unity and progress and development of the area and the people.

More than 50 civil society leaders from the two districts attended the event.

Former State DGP Harekrishna Deka, Dr Nanigopal Mahanta of Peace and Conflict Studies, Gauhati University (GU), Dr Akhil Ranjan Dutta, Dept of Political Science, GU, Samudra Gupta Kashyap of Indian Express, Abhijit Sharma, faculty, IIBM, PJ Baruah, executive editor of The Assam Tribune, CDPS president Arun Sarma, and CDPS director Wasbir Hussain, also spoke.

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