By Shyam Khosla
A series of bomb blasts that killed scores of innocent citizens in Assam and Nagaland is a loud and clear rejection by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) to the Assam government'sappeal for talks and cease-fire. There are disturbing reports that these outfits have joined hands and executed a joint strategy to spread terror in the northeast with the pernicious intent of paralysing the administration. They struck at sensitive points to demonstrate their capacity to strike at will so that they can talk from a position of strength in any future talks with the government. It is totally unacceptable. No government worth its salt should talk with terrorists and secessionists from a position of weakness. Unfortunately, this is what the Assam Chief Minister did. The Union Government'skid glove approach towards terrorism has further encouraged the outlaws even while more and more people are losing faith in the UPA government'swill and capacity to meet the challenge.
Bangladesh is fast emerging as the biggest hub of terrorist gangs attacking northeastern states. Most of the ultras that were hounded out of Bhutan by the Bhutan government's?Operation All Clear? are now holing up in Bangladesh with the connivance of powerful elements in the government of that country. A democratic Bangladesh that was carved out of Pakistan with massive help from India in 1971, is now dominated by Islamic fundamentalists. It is now a hostile neighbour exporting terrorism and its bulging population of illiterate and half-fed citizens. One of its powerful ministers had the audacity to publicly threaten India that Bangladesh can, if it so desired, cut off the northeastern states from the rest of the country. UPA government is presumably following the infamous Gujral doctrine of one-sided love with neighbours and took the threat lightly. There is nothing wrong in the government'sdesire to have friendly relations with neighbours. But friendship has to be reciprocal and not one-sided. The government needs to take serious note of the developments in Bangladesh and its hostility towards us.
The government'sfailure to respond forcefully to these developments has been further confounded by absence of affirmative action to prevent terrorists driven out of Bhutan from regrouping and setting up sanctuaries in Bangladesh. Top leaders of ULFA are now based in Bangladesh. Not only that, NDFB is now totally a Bangladesh-based outfit. It was left with no more than 200 cadres after the group was thrown out of Bhutan. All of them are now based in the Chittagong Hills tract. NDFB has set up joint facilities with ULFA in Mymensingh and Rangpur adjoining Garo Hills. Add to it the Union Home Minister'sfailure to anticipate the fallout of the Manorama Devi incident that was exploited to the hilt by secessionist forces in Manipur. The government remained paralysed for more than three months. Lack of timely and appropriate response to the public outcry has enabled the terrorist to stage a comeback.
Lifting the ban on People'sWar Group (PWG) by the Congress government in Andhra without asking the outlaws to give up arms is a blunder of Himalayan magnitude. This hasty action immediately after assuming power emboldened the communist rebels to no end. The PWG claimed it as its victory and held a massive rally in Hyderabad to demonstrate its strength and following among the masses. Within weeks of the government'sstupid and hasty action, more than 160 Marxist militant groups held a three-day convention at Kolkata organised by MCC and PWG. The convention evolved a joint strategy to float overground umbrella outfits to carry on a parallel campaign to support the underground that would carry on its armed struggle. It has proved without a shadow of doubt that the acceptance of Andhra government'soffer of cease-fire by the PWG was a tactical move to gain time for regrouping and giving final touches to the unity move with the MCC. The rebels will drag on the talks for months and will resume their ?armed struggle? at a time of their choice. The Andhra government will repent at leisure for what it did in haste. But the country will have to pay a heavy price for this ill thought out action of the government.