Militancy can be crushed. Khalistan movement in Punjab and LTTE’s fight for ‘Tamil Ealam’ are history, thanks to all-out operations. Neighbouring China used sheer force time and again either to curb students’ movement or independence struggle in the geographically-isolated Tibet region. But militancy still persists in Indian subcontinent. It’s taking a different colour. Other than having an idealistic ‘goal’ most outfits have just one open-secret agenda – to grab power and ‘earn’ money. The North-east is an ideal place to see this dangerous trend. Meghalaya’s Garo Hills is of late ‘leading’ the region in this regard. At this juncture, two outfits – Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and its breakaway group ANVC-B – have negotiated with the government to disband their outfits. The government has good reasons to blow its trumpet. But, is the disbanding going to change anything in the ground? This is a pertinent question in view of the creation of nearly a dozen so-called militant groups in the small region of 1.5 million population in the past one year.
The Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT), a dreaded name till a decade ago in Assam, was perhaps the first major outfit to disband in NE. Its chief Hagrama Mohilary is now the chief of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) governing the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD). The former militant leaders are all in power as elected BTC members. The then government bragged a lot about bringing peace to the Bodo-dominated areas. That the exercise was futile was known after the October 31, 2008 serial blasts by Ranjan Daimary led National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), claiming nearly 100 lives. It was under BTC rule when the region witnessed ethnic clashes between Bodos (or Bodo militants) and Muslim migrants, the most recent being a couple of years ago. Lives of indigenous non-Bodo people living in the BTAD turned for worse. There have been perennial struggle by non-Bodo organizations against ‘atrocities’ of Bodo groups and their leaders.
Yet, the situation is changing. Youths are increasingly talking against militancy or any nationalistic agenda. They have become ‘selfish’, conscious about career, thanks to globalization. They have seen what militancy has brought to the rest of the world. Has militancy led to progress in any country? For the new generation, the answer is a big NO. Hence the much-publicised disbanding exercise in Garo Hills has a great possibility of proving futile in the coming years. The situation will change for the better as a result of an automatic process. The state has already seen the heights of militancy. It’s turn for its decline.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on Dec 13)