After many decades, the Northeastern region of India has seen a year of peace and progress. For several decades, the region has witnessed prolonged violence’s due to foreign sponsored insurgency. Things have taken a turn for betterment in the last few years ever since the BJP led union government has adopted the ‘Peace through development’ module. Large scale development models initiated by the government have brought back many insurgency groups to the mainstream in the region. Thousands of insurgents have laid down their arms in the last couple of years resulting in a peaceful atmosphere in the region.
Union Home minister Amit Shah recently said in Shillong that within eight years, incidents of insurgency had seen a decline of 74% in Northeast India and that the Government is taking initiatives to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)
Speaking in the North Eastern Council’s Golden jubilee celebration in Shillong on 18th December, 2022, Shah said, “Earlier Northeast India was known for shutdowns, strikes, bomb blasts & firing. In eight years, incidents of insurgency have seen a decline of 74%. Northeast that exists today has ameliorated from what it was eight years ago”.
Home Minister Shah opined that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Northeast has gone ahead on the path of development. Peace has prevailed in the northeast. “If you compare the northeast states that prevailed eight years ago and the northeast that exists today, you will find that after Narendra Modi became the PM for the first time the northeast is treading on the path to progress, truce, and development simultaneously,” he said.
Around 8,000 youths have laid down their arms and chosen to join the mainstream in the entire Northeast
It needs to be emphasised that the attacks on security personnel in the region by insurgency groups have also curtailed by 60 percent. Most importantly, civilian deaths on insurgency related incidents have reduced by 89 percent in the last couple of years. Around 8,000 youths have laid down their arms and chosen to join the mainstream in the entire North East. This is a major achievement of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led union government to establish permanent peace in the region. Home Minister Amit Shah added “Earlier, a lot of demands were made to repeal the Arm Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). Now, nobody needs to make such demands, rather the Government is taking initiatives to repeal AFSPA”.
The central government has withdrawn AFSPA from 60 percent areas of Assam. In Manipur in six districts AFSPA’s operation is limited to 15 Police stations. In Arunachal Pradesh, only one district remains covered in AFSPA. In Nagaland, it has been lifted from 7 districts & in Tripura & Meghalaya, AFSPA completely lifted.”
It should be mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attached top priority to the development of the North East region and he has himself visited the region over 50 times in the past 8 years. HM Amit Shah stated, “For the Modi government the Northeast region is a priority and in over 8 years PM Modi has visited the northeast over 50 times. Now budget allocations and implementations in Northeast are top most priority. The infra development of the region had taken a new shape under”. After PM Modi came to power, with several changes, the budget has reached the villages and grassroots today and can be seen converting into actual work. This is a major achievement,” HM Shah said, “We have connected all the state capitals of Northeast by road, rail and Air connectivity. Efforts are underway to resolve interstate border disputes between Assam-Meghalaya and Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.”
Major peace Agreements in Northeast
NLFT Tripura Agreement: The agreement was signed on 10th August 2019 in the presence of the Home Minister. Immediately thereafter 88 cadres surrendered with 44 weapons in the organised Surrender Ceremony held on 13.08.2019. As per the MoU, for the overall development of the tribes of Tripura, the Government of Tripura will be provided with a Special Economic Development Package (SEDP) of Rs. 100 crores by the Government of India over a period of five years. Bru agreement: A historic agreement was signed in the presence of the Home Minister on 16.01.2020 by the Government of India, Government of Tripura, and Government of Mizoram along with representatives of Bru migrants for the permanent settlement of 6959 Bru families (37,136 persons) in Tripura with a financial package of approx Rs. 661 crore.
Bodo Peace Accord: In the presence of Home Minister Shri Amit Shah ji a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 27.01.2020 by the Government of India, the Government of Assam, and representatives of Bodo groups to resolve the long-pending Bodo issue. After the agreement, 1615 cadres of NDFB groups surrendered their weapons on 30.01.2020. The NDFB groups were dissolved on 09-10th March 2020.
Karbi Anglong Agreement: To end the decades-old crisis in the Karbi Anglong region of Assam, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 04.09.2021 in the presence of the Home Minister among the Government of India, the Government of Assam and representatives of Karbi groups (KLNLF, PDCK, UPLA, KPLT). As a result of this historic agreement, more than 1000 armed cadres renounced violence and joined the mainstream of society.
‘Act Fast and ‘Act First for Northeast’
PM Modi who also graced the golden jubilee meet of the North Eastern Council in Shillong, discussed about the Northeast to be seen in the ensuing 50 years. In fact, PM Modi has outlined the road map for North eastern for the coming 25 years. Addressing a public rally in Shillong, Prime Minister Modi emphasised on his government’s priority on infrastructure building in the region. He said, the government should work on 8 foundation pillars for its development, viz. Peace, Power, Tourism, 5G connectivity, Culture, Natural farming, Sports, Potential.
The Prime Minister said that the Northeast is our gateway to South -East Asia and can become a centre for development of the entire region. And to realise this potential of the region, work is going on the projects like Indian-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and Agartala-Akhaura rail project. Prime Minister Modi highlighted that the government has gone beyond the conversion of the ‘Look East’ policy to ‘Act East’, and now its policy is ‘Act Fast for Northeast’ and ‘Act First for Northeast.’
Connectivity boost is one of the core areas of emphasis by the central government in the region. Nearly 7 lakh crores rupees have been pumped by the central government in North East in the last 8 years to boost infrastructure which encompasses rail, road, and air and internet connectivity. Talking about boosting connectivity in the region, the Prime Minister said that iconic bridge projects which had been pending for several decades had now been completed. In the last 8 years, the number of airports in the region has jumped from 9 to 16, and the number of flights have increased from about 900 before 2014 to around 1900. Many North eastern states have come to Railway map for the first time and efforts are underway to expand the waterways also. The length of national highways has increased by 50% since 2014 in the region.” After the launch of the PM-DevINE scheme, the infrastructure projects in the Northeast have gained more momentum. The government is also working on improving digital connectivity in the Northeast by increasing the optical fibre network. Talking about development of Atma Nirbhar 5G infrastructure, PM Modi said that 5G would help further development of startup ecosystem, service sector among others in the region. He said that his government was committed to making the Northeast not only a centre of economic growth, but also of cultural growth.
Under the Krishi UDAN scheme of the central government, farmers of the region are able to send their products across the country and different parts of the world as well. Recently oranges produced in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya are being exported to the Middle East. Vegetable, aromatic rice from Assam, pineapple from Mizoram and Black Rice from Manipur are being exported to foreign nations under the Krishi UDAN scheme.
As Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “Today, we are further establishing seamless connectivity across Northeast India by connecting four cities with one flight. This underlines the due importance given to the Northeast by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Under the UDAN scheme, we have connected cities which had no mention on the aviation map of the country. We have already started 60 airports, and 387 routes, out of which 100 routes are awarded in the Northeast alone, and 50 are already operational. Moreover, in 2014, only 6 airports were operational in the Northeast, now we have grown to 16 airports in a short span of 8 years. Therefore, this further highlights the due importance of the Northeastern states. Besides, under the KRISHI UDAN Yojna, we have identified 16 airports to enhance the export opportunities of the region establishing dual benefits of enhancement of cargo movements and exports.”
Today, under the prime minister’s directives, additional airports in Lilabari, Tezpur and Rupsi in Assam, Tezu, Pasighat, Hollongi (Donyi Polo), in Arunachal Pradesh, and Pakyong, in Sikkim, Dimapur in Nagaland and the Umroi airport in Meghalaya are being operationalized for the service of the people of the region.