Will former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief PC Haldar, appointed by the Centre as interlocutor for peace parley with Assam’s pro-talks militant outfits, succeed in unfolding a new chapter of order in the State? His mandate is to broker peace with the pro-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) and the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD). This excludes the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) — the Alpha and Charlie companies of the outfit’s 28 Battalion that have been on a unilateral ceasefire mode for more than a year. This is apparently because the government has not entered into any ceasefire pact with the ULFA faction. Haldar has already held discussions with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Chief Secretary PC Sarma, and, as reported, will inform the Union Home Ministry of the ‘‘status of the rebel groups in ceasefire with the government’’. Thereafter, the Union Home Ministry will initiate a peace process so as to arrive at solutions of the problems ‘‘within a year’’.
To iterate, and which we deem it our duty to remind the people of, the peace process will actually be a negotiation with outfits that have conveniently changed roles as insurgents and terrorists to suit their own purpose, with their ideology — whatever that may be — eventually jettisoned for the making of the commercial enterprise of insurgency. Have the Bodos, who now have a territorial council to cater exclusively to their needs, given any mandate to the NDFB to espouse their cause? Or does the UPDS really represent Karbi aspiration? Or how does the Jewel Garlosa faction of the DHD, which till the other day was butchering innocent construction workers, claim to being the most dedicated Dimasa representative? What is the legitimacy of such outfits? Has any people given them the responsibility of advocating mass grievances? Yet, there must be peace talks because we live in a democracy. Given the theory, it will be interesting to see what really the outfits in question harp on after having successfully bled the State and the very people whose cause they ostensibly champion.
However, what must not be lost sight of is what has stoked armed rebellion in this part of the country: underdevelopment, poverty, backwardness, the mainland-hinterland divide, a sense of deprivation and alienation from the rest of the country, unemployment, unemployability, injustices and corruption — the unemployed, unemployable, frustrated youth, who has no reason to believe he can live a dignified life in the mainstream, has always been the best militant recruit. Here ideology never counts. What matters is the lucrative option of being able to survive with a sense of power flowing from the barrel of a gun and to be part of the industry of insurgency as committed employees earning far more than what many well-educated youth in the mainstream cannot. This is the reality of ‘insurgency’ here. How about a meaningful peace process then, which will eliminate the factors responsible for armed rebellion-turned-criminal terrorism? A peace process other than this cannot be tangible. THE SENTINEL