In an event held in Pune, Deputy National Security Advisor of India R N Ravi (IPS) said that the government would not compromise with militants in the name of conditional or unconditional talks. He made a bold stand saying that there will be no more new talks with militant outfits of North-Eastern states and that those groups have to either keep fighting or surrender.
The event, General Lachit Barphukan Memorial Lecture, an intense lecture concerning critical aspects of conflict resolution, development and security aspects of North East India was held in Pune on December 14. R N Ravi, Deputy National Security advisor and an IPS cadre of 1976 batch, was the Chief Guest of the event. The event was organized jointly by Asomi, an organization of the Assamese diaspora in Pune and SEIL (Students’ Experience in Interstate Living).
The key highlight of the whole event was the firebrand speech by R N Ravi, who spoke about several key aspects of Conflict resolution and learnings for the North-East region. Starting his speech with praise for Lachit Barphukan’s military tactics such as Naval warfare, deception and ability to build confidence in his troops, he spoke about the root causes of the complex ethnic diversities of the North-Eastern communities.
Mr. Ravi reminded that the British used to depute graduates from universities to study individual villages, ethnicities, etc and these officials focused on the uniqueness and differences of the different groups and tribes, rather than focusing on the similarities. This was done with good documentation and this was the root of the rather complex ethnic diversity of North-East, where every group claimed difference and unique status.
Criticizing the previous governments for not taking right steps for resolving the insurgency issues the Deputy National Security Adviser stated that creating temporary peace through lateral talks with militant outfits was not a long-term solution but more of a liability. In Assam alone, more than 20,000 surrendered members of militant outfits were being supported by the government in last two decades at a staggering cost of close to 3000 crores as they had been part of groups engaging in lateral talks. Ravi stated that the current government was clear in its policy, – there will be no more talks with any more militant outfit and that the message was clear to those groups wither to fight or surrender. Talking about the Naga framework agreement signed between Government of India and NSCN (IM), Ravi stated that the framework was within the constitution of India and the final settlement would be done considering all groups and neighboring states, not just the Naga group alone.
Talking about the recent NRC updating process, which had created much hue and cry in the region, – Ravi appealed everyone to support the process with sensitivity so that the real migrants can be identified and deported as illegal migration has been a long-term issue of the region. He pointed out that while migration of economic reasons is a threat and would not be tolerated, the migration of minorities from countries such as Bangladesh due to religious suppression may not be looked upon with the same approach. While he did not provide an opinion yet on the subject as this was a sensitive and controversial issue, Mr. Ravi criticized the ULFA severely for their dual stand on the migration issue. He pointed out that while ULFA was formed out of the movement to deport illegal Bangladeshis, the ULFA leadership had changed their stand when they took shelter in Bangladesh in 1991 by publishing a white paper which welcomes the Bengali migrants as workers to improve agriculture and infrastructure of the state.
The event had started with a welcome speech by Samiran Phukan, President of Asomi – a community of Assamese diaspora in Pune. Another speaker, Atul Kulkarni, Chairman of SEIL (Students’ Experience in Interstate Living), lamented that people of the country still have a large misconception that people of the North Region wants to be separate and this was probably fuelled because of the region was probably ignored in early days of Independence after its partition. He appealed to the youth not to look up at government jobs alone for employment, but to foster entrepreneurship in the region which itself would lead to more and more job creation.