Across India, there is a bonding of searing pain, especially in its northern and eastern peripheries. The hurt and tumult envelops families and communities in a shroud of despair, whether it is in the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir or earlier in Punjab.
It has its roots in a political definition articulated by regional non-state groups (armed and civil society) that posits ‘mainland’ India as the ‘other’. The political challenge to the state, backed by armed revolt, has not been crushed despite deploying the army and paramilitary forces for over 50 years in the Northeast, and in Kashmir for over two decades. It appears to have been successful in Punjab but at an unacceptable cost. India truly has been at war with itself—locked with adversaries who have refused to blink or budge for the most part—but that appears to be changing.