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North East insurgency needs special strategy

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, June 27 � Insurgency in North East should never be equated with that in Jammu and Kashmir. While dealing with insurgency in the North East states, the Government of India should adopt different strategies for different states depending on the ground situation instead of clubbing the same together, observed former GOC of the 4 Corps of the Army, Lt Gen DB Shekhatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who served both in North East and Jammu and Kashmir for a long time as an Army officer, said that insurgency in J&K is based on religious fundamentalism, it is not the case in Assam and other parts of North East. While Pakistan is directly involved in creating trouble in J&K for years, most of the major insurgent groups of NE used to receive indirect help from China.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that Pakistan has a direct role to play in creating trouble in J&K, while China officially never declared that it was supporting the militants of NE. However, it is a well established fact that the militant groups of NE are receiving direct or indirect help from China for years and even last year at least six to seven groups of militants went to China.

Giving a detailed account of the difference of militancy in J&K and NE, the former Army officer said that the first seeds of insurgency in NE were sown by the British rulers, who promised some kind of independence to Naga people, while the situation in J&K took a turn for the worse with the deterioration of the law and order situation since 1989. He said that though there were people who were for separation of J&K since the time of independence, the state started facing terrorism much later.

After the Chinese aggression of 1962, the rebels in NE started getting direct or indirect help from China and NSCN leaders I Swu and T Muivah went to China at a very young age to receive training. For years the militant groups continued to receive help from China in the form of training and weapons though the Government of that country never officially accepted the same, while Pakistan openly supported insurgency in J&K and even spoke in the favour of the insurgents in the international forum.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar pointed out that the demand of the tribal groups for self rule was the base of growth of insurgency in NE and after starting from Nagaland, insurgency spread to other parts of the region. So far Mizoram is the only success story where peace talks led to logical conclusion and the state is now considered one of the most peaceful in the entire country. In Assam, insurgency started much later as the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was formed in 1979 and the administrative vacuums as well as the demand for deportation of illegal migrants were the main reasons for the growth of insurgency though it took a different turn later. Now insurgency has become more like cottage industries in the region with new militant groups being formed every year, which is very unfortunate, he added. He also said that wrong policies of the Government of India also fuelled growth of insurgency in the region.

Drawing a difference between the situation in NE and J&K, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the insurgents from J&K are receiving direct patronage from Pakistan and the leaders of the groups are receiving shelter in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) and they are operating from those bases. The terrorists are also receiving weapons and other kinds of support from the administration of Pakistan. Only much later, Pakistan started providing indirect help to the insurgent groups of NE, who came in touch with the Pakistani agents mostly through Bangladesh. Though the insurgent groups of NE also have their bases in Myanmar, they are not receiving direct help from the Government of that country and they managed to stay in Myanmar because of incapability of the Government.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar pointed out that there have been instances when wrong policies of the Government of India resulted in deterioration of the situation in NE. Citing one example, he said that the recent trouble between Nagaland and Manipur over the visit of Muivah could have been avoided and the Centre failed to take right step at the right moment. On the other hand, Manipur should have been developed as the gateway to the SE Asian countries for the overall development of the state.

On his suggestions for the solution of the problems, the former Army officer said that the people in Assam are now fed up with insurgency and it is believed that the leaders of the ULFA also want an honourable way out. The Government of India should make all efforts to start the process of dialogue and at the same time, operations should continue to keep mounting pressure on the militants to come to the negotiation table. Efforts should also be made to de-link the insurgent groups from each other, he added. He also said that the Government should expose Pakistan�s help to the insurgents both in NE and J&K in the international forum with conclusive proof.

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North East insurgency needs special strategy

GUWAHATI, June 27 � Insurgency in North East should never be equated with that in Jammu and Kashmir. While dealing with insurgency in the North East states, the Government of India should adopt different strategies for different states depending on the ground situation instead of clubbing the same together, observed former GOC of the 4 Corps of the Army, Lt Gen DB Shekhatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who served both in North East and Jammu and Kashmir for a long time as an Army officer, said that insurgency in J&K is based on religious fundamentalism, it is not the case in Assam and other parts of North East. While Pakistan is directly involved in creating trouble in J&K for years, most of the major insurgent groups of NE used to receive indirect help from China.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that Pakistan has a direct role to play in creating trouble in J&K, while China officially never declared that it was supporting the militants of NE. However, it is a well established fact that the militant groups of NE are receiving direct or indirect help from China for years and even last year at least six to seven groups of militants went to China.

Giving a detailed account of the difference of militancy in J&K and NE, the former Army officer said that the first seeds of insurgency in NE were sown by the British rulers, who promised some kind of independence to Naga people, while the situation in J&K took a turn for the worse with the deterioration of the law and order situation since 1989. He said that though there were people who were for separation of J&K since the time of independence, the state started facing terrorism much later.

After the Chinese aggression of 1962, the rebels in NE started getting direct or indirect help from China and NSCN leaders I Swu and T Muivah went to China at a very young age to receive training. For years the militant groups continued to receive help from China in the form of training and weapons though the Government of that country never officially accepted the same, while Pakistan openly supported insurgency in J&K and even spoke in the favour of the insurgents in the international forum.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar pointed out that the demand of the tribal groups for self rule was the base of growth of insurgency in NE and after starting from Nagaland, insurgency spread to other parts of the region. So far Mizoram is the only success story where peace talks led to logical conclusion and the state is now considered one of the most peaceful in the entire country. In Assam, insurgency started much later as the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was formed in 1979 and the administrative vacuums as well as the demand for deportation of illegal migrants were the main reasons for the growth of insurgency though it took a different turn later. Now insurgency has become more like cottage industries in the region with new militant groups being formed every year, which is very unfortunate, he added. He also said that wrong policies of the Government of India also fuelled growth of insurgency in the region.

Drawing a difference between the situation in NE and J&K, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the insurgents from J&K are receiving direct patronage from Pakistan and the leaders of the groups are receiving shelter in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) and they are operating from those bases. The terrorists are also receiving weapons and other kinds of support from the administration of Pakistan. Only much later, Pakistan started providing indirect help to the insurgent groups of NE, who came in touch with the Pakistani agents mostly through Bangladesh. Though the insurgent groups of NE also have their bases in Myanmar, they are not receiving direct help from the Government of that country and they managed to stay in Myanmar because of incapability of the Government.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar pointed out that there have been instances when wrong policies of the Government of India resulted in deterioration of the situation in NE. Citing one example, he said that the recent trouble between Nagaland and Manipur over the visit of Muivah could have been avoided and the Centre failed to take right step at the right moment. On the other hand, Manipur should have been developed as the gateway to the SE Asian countries for the overall development of the state.

On his suggestions for the solution of the problems, the former Army officer said that the people in Assam are now fed up with insurgency and it is believed that the leaders of the ULFA also want an honourable way out. The Government of India should make all efforts to start the process of dialogue and at the same time, operations should continue to keep mounting pressure on the militants to come to the negotiation table. Efforts should also be made to de-link the insurgent groups from each other, he added. He also said that the Government should expose Pakistan�s help to the insurgents both in NE and J&K in the international forum with conclusive proof.