NEW DELHI, Feb 1 � Militant outfits of the North-east have to express desire for peace and show willingness to abjure violence for the Centre to respond positively in full measure in considering the demands.
Clarifying Centre�s position, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh said what is essential is a genuine desire for peace and a willingness to abjure the path of violence. �It is the commitment of our government, that if these two conditions are satisfied we will respond in full measure in considering the demands of various groups,� he added.
�There has been fruitful engagement with several groups in 2010 and we wish to deepen this process of engagement this year,� Dr Singh said.
The Prime Minister was delivering the inaugural address at the Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security here at Vigyan Bhavan on Tuesday. Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi did not attend the Conference.
Acknowledging the decline in level of violence in the North-east, the Prime Minister said highlight of last year has been the change in the situation in the North-east. �The trend of declining violence and casualties continued in 2010, and I have been told that violence is at its lowest levels in many years,� Dr Singh said.
�I have repeatedly stated that the Indian Constitution is a remarkably flexible instrument, capable of accommodating a diverse range of aspirations,� the Prime Minister said.
Echoing the Prime Minister, Home Minister, P Chidambaram reported that there has been a dramatic change in the situation in the North-east. 2010 witnessed the lowest level of violence in many years.
Barring Assam and Manipur, the other States have shown remarkable improvement. No civilian was killed in Nagaland or Mizoram. No security personnel were killed in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland or Mizoram. Nine insurgent groups are in talks with the Government or are poised to commence talks, Chidambaram said.
�The time has come to change our perceptions of the insurgent groups. So long as they are willing to talk and reach honourable and just settlements, we must treat their leaders honourably and fairly; we must give their cadres an opportunity to return to the mainstream of society and start new lives; and we must prepare the people for reconciliation. We hope to be able to conclude agreements with some of the groups in the near future,� he said.
At the Conference, the Chief Minister raised the issue of ban imposed on mobile pre-paid connections in the North-east, the Home Minister told newsmen.
The meeting discussed the fragile security situation in the North Eastern Region and noted that the number of violent incidents in the NE States last year had come down from 1297 in 2009 to 773 last year. Similarly, number of security personnel and civilians killed, has come down significantly.
In Manipur, the number of civilians and security personnel killed has come down from 81 to 33 and 19 and six, respectively.
The conference further discussed the inability of the States to complete the projects for developments of infrastructure. Many States have been sanctioned funds for strengthening of infrastructure for capacity building. However, none of the State including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura has completed the project.
The conference of Chief Ministers also reviewed construction of strategic border roads along Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Bhutan borders. Assam and few other States have been asked by the Centre to expedite the advance preparatory work like land acquisition, statutory clearances to start the project by April.