21 June, 2021


Shades of pacifism and fatigue on a canvas of violence

Anupam Nath
India’s Northeast, which now officially includes the eighth state of Sikkim, has the dubious distinction of being home to Asia’s longest-running insurgency. The Nagas under A.Z. Phizo began an insurrection against the newly-formed Indian nation way back in 1956. Since then, it has spawned dozens of similar protests across the region, built around a sense of alienation and ethnic-cultural difference, that stay on the periphery of national consciousness. At last count, there were 30-odd banned insurgent groups in the region. Through the ’90s, some 11,000 died in insurgency-hit Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland.

Going strictly by numbers, Assam continues to bleed most. Till end-September, over 300 people had been killed this year. But numbers can be deceptive. Unlike the mid-’90s, insurgency no longer dominates headlines or people’s lives, which must be worrying for the two big outfits here, the ULFA and the NDFB. The Bodos are trapped in a seemingly intractable turf war against mainstream Assamese and ‘outsiders’ such as the Bengalis and even tea estate...

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