[Assam] Another Clueless Editorial

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at charter.net
Thu May 24 05:58:44 PDT 2007

Happened to run into the following 'editorial' piece from the AT. 
Rarely do you see so much written to demonstrate one's clueless-ness.

The editorial describes the futility of the government's policies and 
actions, spanning nearly two decades and ends up recommending what? 
More of the same.

The insanity rules!


(Emphasis mine)

Counter-insurgency operations in Assam
- R Dutta Choudhury
Full-scale counter-insurgency operations for nearly two decades 
totally failed to solve the problem of militancy, which has been 
affecting Assam since the formation of the United Liberation Front of 
Asom (ULFA) in 1979 and it has proved beyond doubt that Army 
operations can only help in bringing down the level of violence. Of 
course, over the last few years, a number of militant outfits have 
arrived at cease-fire agreements with the Government for solving 
their problems through political dialogues, which is of course, a 
positive sign. But at the same time, new militant outfits are 
cropping up in different parts of Assam, while, reports of attempts 
by the fundamentalist elements inimical to India to establish their 
roots in the State added a new dimension to the problem of insurgency.

In fact, over the years, Assam has been caught in the web of a 
vicious cycle and the only way out to break the cycle is to find an 
amicable political solution to the problem of insurgency. It is a 
fact that despite best efforts by successive Governments, potential 
investors are shying away from Assam because of the law and order 
situation and the State remained backward because of lack of adequate 
private investments. Announcement of special industrial policies by 
the Government of India with lucrative incentives and holding of 
investors' meets by the Government of Assam in the metropolitan 
cities of the country failed to attract investment to the State to 
the desired extent and though, at one point of time, a number of 
potential investors started making queries in Dispur about investment 
potential, most of them retracted their steps after a series of acts 
of violence, which rocked the State in the early part of this year.

The failure to attract private investment to the desired extent can 
be considered as one of the prime reasons for underdevelopment of the 
State, while, the problem of unemployment has assumed alarming 
proportion, which helped the militant groups to lure away unemployed 
and frustrated youths to their folds. It is a fact that the 
Government cannot solve the problem of unemployment by providing jobs 
in Government Departments, but steps should be taken to evolve 
policies to provide self-employment avenues to the unemployed youths 
to check the youths from joining the militant groups out of 

Full scale counter insurgency operations against the United 
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was launched in the later part of 
1990 and though a good number of militants were killed or arrested in 
the operations, the militant groups remains a potent force. Over the 
years, the ULFA received severe setbacks in the operations by the 
Armed forces and the operations by the Bhutan Army in 2003 against 
the militants taking shelter in that country was one of the worst 
setbacks suffered by the ULFA in recent years as the headquarters of 
the outfit were smashed leading to arrests of several prominent 
militant leaders. However, the top leaders of the ULFA are taking 
shelter in foreign countries and the growing problem of unemployment 
provides the outfit with a steady stream of youths willing to join 
them. Years of counter-insurgency operations proved that the only way 
out to solve the problem is to tackle the root causes of the problem, 
but so far efforts to bring the ULFA to the negotiation table for 
political talks failed to yield the desired results.

The people of Assam saw a ray of hope when the ULFA formed the 
people's consultative group (PCG) in 2005 to hold initial parleys 
with the Government of India to pave the way for direct talks and the 
Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh proved the sincerity of the 
Government of India by attending the first meeting with the PCG. But 
the ULFA leaders struck to their stand that the sovereignty of Assam 
must be the core issue for talks and demanded that five jailed 
central committee members of the ULFA should be released before 
talks. On its part, the Government maintained that the sovereignty of 
Assam would not be negotiable. The Government also said that the ULFA 
must give a written assurance to come for talks to ensure the release 
of the jailed central committee members. With both sides sticking to 
their stands on the issue of talks, the peace process ended in a 
deadlock and there is no prospect of direct talks between the 
Government and the ULFA in near future.

In the meantime, the ULFA resorted to acts of violence in different 
parts of the State and of late, the ULFA changed its tactics and 
started planting explosives in busy places. The militant outfit also 
launched a brutal attack on innocent Hindi speaking people in the 
remote areas of Assam, particularly in the Upper Assam districts of 
Tinsukia and Dibrugarh in the early part of this year killing more 
than 70 persons. On the other hand, the ULFA also suffered severe 
setbacks as a number of hardcore cadres have either been killed or 
arrested in recent times. However, it is evident that such killings 
and counter-killings will not help in any way in dealing with the 
problem of insurgency and the Government must initiate steps to 
tackle the root cause of the problem. The Government can also launch 
mass mobilization campaign to make the people of Assam aware of the 
bad effects of insurgency on the overall development of the State. Of 
course, from time to time, the Government holds anti-violence 
rallies, but so far, no sustained effort is seen on the part of the 
Government in this regard.

Another disturbing fact is that innocent persons are being harassed 
or killed in the counter-insurgency operations in the State and such 
unfortunate incidents alienated the common people of Assam. The 
recent killing of Buddheswar Moran in Doom Dooma by the Army in a 
case of mistaken identity led to widespread protests and though the 
Army apologised to the people and the Government ordered a probe into 
the unfortunate incident, it failed to pacify the people of that area 
who knew that Moran was not a member of the ULFA. This was not the 
first incident of killing of an innocent person during the operations 
against the ULFA as last year, ten persons were killed in firing by 
the police and security forces in Kakopathar in Tinsukia district 
when they were protesting against the killing of an innocent person 
by the Army. In an exchange of fire between the militants and 
security personnel, the possibility of innocents being hit by bullets 
in cross firing cannot be ruled out, but the security forces must try 
their best to ensure that no innocent is unduly harassed in the 
operations. As language barrier often creates confusion and leads to 
unsavoury incidents, the Government must ensure that the Army 
personnel are accompanied by local police personnel during the 
operations. It should not be a difficult task to do so as the Army 
now operates under a Unified Command Structure headed by the Chief 
Minister himself. The Government can also think of offering a crash 
course on local customs to the personnel of the security forces 
brought in from other parts of the country before they are inducted 
into counter-insurgency operations in Assam.
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