Karbi Anglong peace deal points the importance of addressing small insurgencies that scar Northeast landscape

Synopsis: The recent Karbi Anglong agreement gives hope for peace in the northeast. But we need to look beyond peace deals for long-term peace in the region.

Introduction

The Government of India has signed a tripartite Karbi Anglong agreement with five insurgent groups to put an end to years of violence and bring peace and prosperity in the state of Assam.

Read more: Karbi Agreement – another milestone in PM’s vision

What is the background of these insurgencies?

The Northeast has numerous insurgent groups spread across many states. The Naga insurgency has acted as an inspiration for all the separatist movements in this region. ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) was guided by the desire for Assamese nationalism. Similarly, many smaller groups have fought to protect their distinct ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity from being subsumed within a broader Assamese identity.

Read more: Naga Peace Accord and Naga Insurgency

How do these groups work and operate?

They make wide-ranging demands, ranging from a separate nation-state to statehood within the Indian Constitution and autonomy under the state government.  This has forced the center to adopt various policies to counter the insurgency.

What is the centre’s approach?

The centre adopted a double-barrelled approach: First, it offers autonomy under the Constitution. Second, it uses security forces to crush the militancy.

Insurgents who negotiate for peace, are being accommodated. They are accommodated in state legislatures or Autonomous Councils. This approach has had varying degrees of success, in Mizoram, Tripura, the Bodo areas.

How Assam’s case is different?

In Assam’s hill districts of Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong, separatist movements have rejected Sixth Schedule status. This transformed into a demand for an autonomous state under Article 244(a) of the Constitution.

Thus, it can be said that the Karbi Anglong agreement promises more autonomy than currently enjoyed by the Autonomous Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

What should be the way forward?

The peace deal alone cannot ensure peace, as Autonomous councils are often captured by ex-militants who use fear and intimidation to assert themselves. So we must look beyond peace deals towards transitioning society into a democratic construct.

Source: This post is based on the article “Karbi Anglong peace deal points the importance of addressing small insurgencies that scar Northeast landscape” published in the ” Indian Express” on 7th September 2021.

Terms to know

Article 244(a)

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