‘Border population needs to be protected from insurgents, jihadi threat to NE challenge before entire tion, no proposal for withdrawing AFSPA’
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 11: Union Home Minister Rajth Singh today favoured reduction of security forces in the Northeast where he said insurgency was at an all-time low, but at the same time insisted that more focus is needed on ensuring that militant groups operating from safe havens across the border are uprooted.
Addressing a meeting of Chief Ministers of the region on the issues of security and development, Singh asked the Chief Ministers to conduct a "reality audit" for deployment of security forces in their states.
The Union Home minister assured deployment of central forces when actually needed, saying reduction in deployment in the region without compromising on security was needed to encourage outsiders to think positively about the Northeast.
Expressing concerns over recent developments along India-Myanmar border, Singh said he has constituted a committee to review how to effectively mage the issue.
The committee, headed by Joint Intelligence Committee chief RN Ravi, has already reviewed the situation and is expected to submit its report soon.
"We should not ignore the border population. There are 240 villages with over two lakh population within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. This large population is without any security cover. They are at the mercy of insurgents. Similar situation prevails along the India-Bhutan border," Singh added.
However, he claimed that "overall level of insurgency is at all-time low. Mizoram, Tripura, large parts of Assam and Meghalaya, and Aruchal Pradesh, except its three eastern districts, are almost free of insurgency. There is a strong desire for peace in galand and Manipur too."
He said peace initiatives of the government of India with several militant outfits are on the right track.
"However, these days much of the residual insurgency in the region is by some small violent insurgent groups operating from their safe havens across the border," Singh said, adding, "The Central government will not talk to such crimil elements." Underling the need for greater border vigil, the Union minister said reports of Indo-Myanmar border being increasingly used for movement of insurgents, weapons and drugs have been received.
"We also need to tighten our vigil along the Indo-Bangladesh border," Singh said.
On jihadi threat to the NE region, he said it is a challenge not just before the region, but for the entire tion.
Clarifying that there is no proposal of withdrawing AFSPA from various parts of the Northeast at the moment, Singh the law will be withdrawn from areas where the situation normalizes.
The Union Home minister called upon the NE states to maintain status quo over the inter-state boundary disputes as the matter is sub-judice, adding that Centre and the states can jointly resolve the issue when the court announces its verdict.
Emphasizing the need for development and security of people along the intertiol borders, he said under Border Area Development Program, the share of the region has been enhanced from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbanda Sonowal, DoNER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, Chief Ministers of Assam, Aruchal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, galand and the Home Minister of Sikkim along with top officials of the civil, army and police administrations were present at the meeting.
Ibobi for ILP-like mechanism in NE
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has pitched for an "universal legislation" for all North Eastern states on the lines of Inner Line Permit (ILP) as a measure for protection of indigenous people of the region. He pointed that Aruchal Pradesh, Mizoram and galand already have the provision for ILP and there is growing demand for the same in Manipur and Meghalaya, among others.
Destroy rebel camps in Bangladesh: Sarkar
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar urged the Central government to pursue with the government of Bangladesh to flush out Northeast militant groups taking shelter in the neighbouring country. Calling for diplomatic efforts for neutralizing and demolishing safe havens-camps across the border, Sarkar said, "As a part of overall strategy for tackling insurgency, Union government should strongly persuade government of Bangladesh to fully destroy all the hideouts of the militants."
galand CM wants NSCN-K to resume ceasefire
galand Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang urged the Central government to convince the NSCN-K to resume the ceasefire to avoid further violence in the State by the militant group. Besides, the chief minister said his government was not informed by the Union Home Ministry about the group's move to abrogate the ceasefire. "Had we been informed in advance, we could have tried through our NGOs to convince Khaplang to continue the ceasefire in the interest of peace and as per the desire of the vast majority of gas," Zeliang said.