North East is burning hot in cold December

    The Sangai Express 16-Dec-2019   TS Haokip

It is understandable, if we as a Country are on a race to become the first country to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants on the basis of religion, to passed a bill like CAB. Our secularism framework exists now only in paper -the constitution, at least for now. The concerns of indigenous people in their protests against the granting of citizenship to immigrants of three different countries is no rocket science to figure out. The demography of North East India is poised to be altered by it with only alarming consequences cogitable for the indigenous people.

The present situation of the precarious absence of inclusive policy coupled with complete breakdown of governance in North East India after the passage of CAB is impossible to shut one' eyes to, for any sane person. Even as I write this, 3 people have died in Assam police's open firing; internet suspended and curfews imposed in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura; Tribal protesters in Tripura are attacked. The result is not just the prevalence of chaotic law and order issue but the frightening rate at which more people have joined the groups of CAB protestors in support of the rights of those protesters attacked by security forces to forcefully silenced them. Is India willing to lose its children for the sake of immigrants? No wonder many people in the NE could not relate India as its parents. 

The idea that is India, which many people in the North-East, including myself believes in, where Government formed by voices of the majorities are obliged to consider the voice and concerns of the minorities, has been put to an undersirable scrutiny, where its adulation is now embroiled in an environment of fear and insecurity for the minorities, even to voice their justified issues. In the absence of any safe-guards and concerns for the minorities as witnessed in the passage of CAB, it is not too far-fetched to say that indigenous people especially in the North East would be forced to spawn the long-lost aspiration for self-governance.

Majority of the North Eastern voters had high hopes on BJP even when CAB was listed as one of the election Manifestos. One reason was due to the hope on NRC in Assam, which was believed  to check illegal immigrants. Also the fact that North-East has never benefited any one-size-fits-all policies and the usual practice of therefore consulting the people of North-East, a region with very different environment; physically, socially, culturally and economically, was thus expected at the least from any government of the day.

That the present Government has failed to lived up to the hopes of the NE people should not be in anyways interpreted as the public fault. That Manipur has got ILP should not wash away the dirt in other North-Eastern states like Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Assam which share their borders with Bangladesh - the one country with the largest number of illegal immigrants to be given Indian citizenship based on their religion.

There is no guarantee that situations would not worsen if the Government does not look into it with a sincere approach to genuinely take on-board the concerns of the indigenous North East people. Flooding the region with security forces could at best give temporary respite, which too is very unlikely now. Thanks to security forces who fired on protestors. It is time the Government of India acknowledge and respect the rights of the North Eastern people and involved their concerns in matters which directly affect them. For, a strong, united and prosperous India requires a prosperous North East India. And North Easterners know best what is good for them; Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are the least, North-East requires for its prosperity.

(The writer is a former development professional and has served as a consultant to the Ministry of RD, GOI. He is the author of "Hilly Dreams- The Story of Aboi.)

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