Rehabilitate ex-militants from NE: House panel to MHA

Rehabilitate ex-militants from NE: House panel to MHA

A view of the Parliament House, in New Delhi. (PTI File Photo)

Spike in crimes in the Northeast, especially kidnapping, despite a decline in militancy, has puzzled a parliamentary panel, which suspects that former militants may be behind it as they are not properly rehabilitated.

An analysis of the overall security situation in the Northeast by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs acknowledged the positive movement in containing insurgency but has cautioned the government against complacency. While there were 308 insurgency-related incidents in till October 2017, it was 484 in 2016.

The panel headed by senior Congress MP and former home minister P Chidambaram wants the Centre to properly rehabilitate surrendered militants across the Northeast and warned that if it is not done, then there is a "possibility that the disgruntled groups" may "potentially regroup" to for a new outfit or indulge in illegal activities.

In its observations on Assam, the report tabled in Parliament said kidnappings and abductions by insurgents showed a decline from 94 in 2014 to 14 in 2016, but the same crime by the general public has shown a significant rise during this period from 4,824 to 6,128. Assam has the highest rate of kidnappings and abductions as well as the highest rate of crimes in the country.

The panel felt the rise in such incidents was basically due to poor rehabilitation and settlement of former insurgents, who are "indulging in such crimes for ransom". Highlighting the "worrisome" statistics of a huge number of women victims (81%) that pointed a connection to human trafficking, the panel asked for an inter-state investigation to find out the reasons for such a high rate of kidnappings of women.

It also highlighted the peculiar situation in Arunachal Pradesh where no active insurgent group operates but accounts for 20% of the insurgency-related incidents in the Northeast in 2017. While all other states showed a decline in such incidents, Arunachal showed a rise. The panel also felt that the number of abductions there was higher compared to its population.

Manipur, too, witnessed a drop in insurgency-related violence, but it accounted for 54% of the incidents in the Northeast. The panel wanted the government to intensify the pace of engagements with insurgent groups.

Another concern expressed by the panel was about Meghalaya where the forces have "neutralised" Garo National Liberation Army with most of its militants surrendering. It warned the government that if these militants are not rehabilitated properly, there is a possibility of them regrouping.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs must make sincere efforts to rehabilitate all the cadres who have surrendered, by providing some financial assistance as well as opportunities for bringing them into the mainstream so that these cadres may not relapse into the fold of insurgency," it said.

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