From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : AFSPA
Mains level : Paper 2- Peace process in Northeast
Progress in settling border disputes, removal of AFSPA herald positive changes in the region.
Significant development for restoring normalcy in the region
- Efforts to address the issues of the Northeast have been moving according to a strategic plan which is premised on three objectives —
- 1] Ending all disputes.
- 2] Ushering in economic progress and taking the region’s contribution to GDP back to its pre-Independence levels,
- 3] making efforts to maintain and preserve the region’s languages, dialects, dance, music, food, and culture and make it attractive for the whole country.
- In this regard, two recent developments are significant:
- On March 29, the Assam and Meghalaya chief ministers signed an agreement to resolve the five-decade-old border dispute.
- The Union home ministry (MHA) decided to reduce the disturbed areas under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur after decades.
Progress on the border disputes
- As part of the strategy, existing issues of both interstate border disputes and insurgency have been closely studied and negotiated and a few agreements have been signed.
- Assam, with the maximum border disputes in the region, got into a proactive border dialogue.
- The dialogues on the state’s border disputes with Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram are continuing at a steady pace.
- After the violent flare-ups witnessed last year at the Assam-Mizoram border, today there are regular engagements to maintain peace and work out a permanent solution.
- The model of Assam’s engagement with Meghalaya, is a good one to emulate — the two chief ministers, after two rounds of talks in August last year, constituted three committees each under cabinet ministers in their states to go into the complex boundary issues.
Significance of notification on AFSPA
- Peace has been witnessed in most places across Assam, and even in Nagaland and Manipur talks with various groups for a permanent solution had resulted in a cessation of violence.
- The NLFT Tripura Agreement (August 2019), the Bru Agreement (January 2020), the Bodo Peace Accord (January 2020) and the Karbi Anglong Agreement (September 2021) have actually resulted in about 7,000 militants surrendering their arms.
- Removal of DAN: So the demand for the removal of the disturbed areas notification (DAN) was very much justified.
- DAN has been in force in the whole of Assam since 1990, in all of Manipur (except the Imphal Municipality area) since 2004 and in the whole of Nagaland since 1995.
- With the removal of the DAN tag, AFSPA has been removed with effect from April 1 this year completely from 23 districts and partially from one district of Assam, from 15 police station areas of six districts of Manipur and from 15 police station areas in seven districts in Nagaland.
- DAN is currently applicable in only three districts and in two police station areas in one other district of Arunachal Pradesh.
- AFSPA was completely removed from Tripura in 2015 and Meghalaya in 2018, respectively.
The efforts by the Union government to make the northeastern region the main pillar of the Act East policy have been useful in bringing a sense of political stability that is very crucial for optimal economic development and capacity enhancement in the region.