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Narendra Modi once famously answered to a journalist’s question – goli ke awaz mein baat-chit sunayeen degi kya (will talks be heard amid the sound of guns). The journalist’s question was on peace process. Guns and talks cannot go together. It’s always the one or the other. This aspect is often ignored by the government in the so-called peace processes with outfits in North-east. It was only the other day the Centre decided to put on hold all kinds of “unconditional” talks. Over 70 lives had to be lost for the awakening! But it’s not surprising if the government tomorrow decides to extend an olive branch to the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Songbijit faction, responsible for the massacre on December 23. They might be given amnesty “for the sake of restoring peace”. They might be rewarded (for the massacre) with bigger rehabilitation packages.

It’s a known fact that the more a “home-coming” militant (or criminal) is accused of crimes, the more is the authenticity of his being a top rebel and entitled for government patronage. All former leaders of the once-dreaded Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) are now enjoying power in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which was expected to end the bloodshed in Assam. But the historic mistake was realised within five years of its formation when NDFB then led by Ranjan Daimary triggered serial blasts in Assam on October 30, 2008. It was not the end. The BTC-ruled areas have been witnessing ethnic cleansing involving Bodo militants every other year. It’s not the struggle for freedom of the Bodo people, as the groups proclaim. It’s all about power. If Hagrama Mohilary can be at the helm in the BTC even causing loss of innocent lives, why not a greener pasture for Rajnan Daimary or Songbijit? Daimary has already agreed for peace talks (being in jail, he has no other option) while Songbijit might be waiting for his turn.

From the Hagramas, Daimarys and Songbijits, the “upcoming” militants take a very important lesson – the more you kill (in the name of rights of an indigenous community) the more importance you get from the authorities including the judiciary. They have no reason to shy away from guns? There would be new Songbijits raising their ugly heads even the present one is neautralised. Should the government take a lesson from the mistakes it made in giving VIP treatment to “homecoming” rebels, just because they have a “noble cause” to justify their crime on humanity?

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on Dec 27, 2014)