Improving ties

While peace talks with some militant groups in the north-east are progressing there are also reports that there is increased hostile activity on the part of some other groups. The hard line faction of the ULFA, led by Paresh Barua, has especially struck a tough posture, though it has been weakened by the desertion of many senior leaders. 

Some of them are in jail in India and in Bangladesh. But the outfit is continuing with its activities like intimidation and extortions. It also succeeded recently in attracting some members of the pro-talks faction and in making fresh recruitments, though not very large.

All this shows that the threat from militancy is still live in the north-east. The government has done well to keep up operational pressure on this and other groups because a carrot and stick policy is the best to adopt in the circumstances. At the same time, it should also expedite the talks with the pro-talks faction and try to reach an agreement at the earliest. A successful completion of the peace process will further weaken the hard line group and encourage some of its members to participate in the process.

There are also reports of increased availability of sophisticated weapons for the militants. Some of them are acquired in the hide-outs outside the country and others are smuggled across the porous borders with Myanmar. No activity has been noticed across the Chinese border but most of the weapons are of Chinese origin. There is no proof either of official Chinese involvement in the supply of arms to the insurgents. But the matter needs to be taken up with the Chinese government at the diplomatic level so that the sources of supply are choked off.

It is also necessary to better police the Myanmar border. The improved relations with Bangladesh and Myanmar should help in putting pressure on militants who had taken refuge in these two countries and had carried on anti-India activities from there.

After the Sheikh Hasina government came to power in Bangladesh the militant bases in that country were closed down and the arms smuggling routes were shut down. Relations with the two neighbours should be improved further so that there is no revival of militant activities from their territories. Completion of the ongoing peace processes with militant groups should receive paramount attention.


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