With the arrest of Arabinda Rajkhowa, chairman of the ULFA and Raju Barua deputy commander-in-chief, questions are now being asked in civil and political circles: Is peace imminent in north-east ? There are still certain areas of the region which continue to be haunted by the shadow of gun. True to her commitment, after assuming power, Begum Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has been cooperating with the Indian Government on the issue of north-east insurgency.
Awami League led government at Dhaka is well aware of the fact that continuation of bases of north-east militant groups on the soil of Bangladesh who work in tandem with terrorist and fundamentalist forces is not only a security threat to India but to their own country. ISI’s diabolical plot to destablise the region under the pretext of Bangladeshisation or Islamisation is being viewed as an exercise at Balkanisation of north-east.
Political analysts had described the return of 14 party alliance of Hasina Government as the beginning of a new phase of democracy and good governance in Bangladesh, so important for stability in south-east region. Significantly Hasina proposed formation of a South Asia Task Force to fight terrorism so that blame gaming regarding terrorism could end.
It was pointed out earlier that after taking top ULFA leaders – Shashadhar Choudhury and Chitraban Hazarika – into security dragnet by the Bangladesh Government and their handing over to BSF, Arabinda Rajkhowa, Paresh Barua of ULFA, Ranjan Daimary of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Jeevan Singh of Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) were on the target list. As planned, Arabinda Rajkhowa and others were arrested and the hunt is on for Ranjan Daimary and Jeevan Singh. There is however no definite information about the leaders of Manipur based extremist groups like Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) and Peoples’ Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak). It is belived they have moved to Mynmar and operating from within the state of Manipur.
Against the fast changing scenario, ULFA, according to observers, is left with no option than to sit for talks with the government, notwithstanding brave face maintained by the top leaders on the issue of their demand for sovereignty for Assam. Except Paresh Barua, commander-in-chief of the outfit, who is believed to be cooling his heels in the Yunan province of China, all the frontline leaders of ULFA are now in the security dragnet of India.
Most important, Centre’s dialogue with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) (IM) has reached crucial stage and the Union Home Ministry is ready with the package for peace and the contentious issues of integration of Naga inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, foreign affairs, separate currency and defence are expected to be resolved to pave the way for ending gun-culture. Khaplang faction has also indicated its desire to draw curtain on the more than 6 decade old Indo-Naga imbroglio.
It is also significant that various other extremist groups have come in peace-process. Pro peace group of NDFB is in ceasefire agreement from 2005. Adivasi Cobra Force declared ceasefire in 2001while United People Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in 2002. Karbi Longri National Liberation Front declared ceasefire this year, seeking dialogue with the government. Both the factions of Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) have surrendered and expressed their desire to restore normalcy in North Cachar Hills.
Tough stand of Hasina Government on insurgency has sent shivers down the spine of militants, as reported earlier. They are jittery and in disarray, desperate to bail themselves out of the predicament. With almost zero level of emotion support base and public outcry for peace, extremist outfits have begun to feel the heat. Massive development works undertaken by the Centre notwithstanding hiccups here and there are weaning away youths and providing them employment opportunities. The dovetailing events and sequences can not but mellow down the militant leaders, understand the reality and to bid for peace and political rehabilitation on the pattern of Laldenga of MNF.