Insurgency, perhaps, has a shelf life. Decades of army operations could not end the modern menace in Assam yet. But, insurgency is no longer a much-talked-about subject. Militant outfits are on the wane in the state. While forces contributed towards keeping a tight vigil against violent elements, the state’s increased exposure to the rest of the world helped bringing the crisis towards its end. Top militant leaders, who are in their fifties, are either in jail or joined the mainstream. Only a few are stuck to their ‘ideology’ and continuing their ‘fight’ – they are not clear against who they are fighting. They have failed to create new breed of leaders, a first sign of end of any movement or organisation. Still, it’s not all over yet. The shelf life might still be there!
Meghalaya has seen a lot of ups and downs it its history of insurgency. There were moments appeared to have started a downslide in the insurgency graph. But, hopes are shattered every time by incidents of kidnapping, murder in Garo Hills, one of the most insurgency-hit regions of the North-east. The region has witnessed slew of surrenders and even mass surrenders in the past. Major insurgent outfits laid down arms en masse and disbanded their outfits. Some of the former militant leaders have already joined politics. But, there is no end to the crimes. The situation is such that kidnapping of two persons of Rabha community has led to communal tension, reminding the region of the bloody ethnic clash of 2010-11. This despite the recent wave of surrenders and slew of peace rallies held across the region. The people’s call to the militant groups seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
Although the situation is same in Assam and Meghalaya as far as absence of ‘next generation’ leader in militant outfits is concerned, outfits are born at the drop of the hat in the latter. If police figures are to believe, there are least-known outfits having cadre strength of 10-20! All of them have bombastic names! They sound like having great ideology. But their job is nothing but to excel in the trade of kidnapping and extortion. They kill people even after getting the ransom, apparently to silence the witness, for good! At the same time, there is also a sense of growing resentment among the people against militant groups. The conflict is on. The day former will have its victory, the downslide of insurgency will begin, but the end will not come till the ‘shelf life’ is over.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on February 13, 2016)