Neglected and discarded for the most part since Independence, the beautiful and promising North East is forging ahead to regain its lost glory, thanks mainly to Home Minister Amit Shah’s relentless efforts to bring in a reign of peace and stability in the region. Shah has been serving as the country’s Home Minister since 2019.
The visionary Home Minister, who firmly believes that development cannot be achieved without peace prevailing in any area, has been instrumental, since assuming charge, in permanently resolving at least eight prominent politically-sensitive disputes in the region that were primarily responsible for agitation, ethnic conflict, unrest, militancy and separatism in the area comprising Ashtalakshmi (the eight states).
All eight discords resolved, the latest being the Assam-Arunachal border decades-long dispute, are development-accretive and bear the imprint of the master administrator Shah and his fabled capacity of weaving a full-proof strategy. They also speak volumes about his leadership quality.
Soon after taking over, Shah directed his officials in the Home Ministry to take urgent steps and formulate strategies that would help in bringing about a lasting peace to the area.
The first success came in 2019. During the year, the Home Ministry signed an agreement with the Sabir Kumar Debbarma-led National Liberation Front of Tripura that led to the surrender of 88 activists with 44 weapons. Under the agreement, a provision of a special economic development package of Rs 100 crore was made available for the development of tribal areas.
The next year saw two historic disputes getting resolved. And in both of them, Shah played a pivotal role. He was instrumental in signing the BRU agreement that provided permanent domicile to 6,959 BRU families, 37,136 persons, in Tripura. A Rs 661 crore rehabilitation package was also sanctioned.
The historic Bodo Accord, signed in 2020, was also a brainchild of the Home Minister Shah. Under Shah’s leadership, an MoU was signed between the Government of India, the Government of Assam, and representatives of BodoGroups to resolve the long-pending Bodo issue. Following the signing of the agreement, 1615 workers of NDFB factions laid down their arms.
In 2021, under the able guidance of the Home Minister, the historic Karbi Anglong Agreement to get rid of the decades-old crisis was signed in New Delhi with representatives of Karbi groups. The pact ensured Assam’s territorial integrity and saw more than 1,000 armed cadres renouncing violence to join the mainstream.
The Tribal Peace Agreement and the Assam-Meghalaya Inter-State Boundary Agreement were signed in 2022. While the Tribal Peace Agreement resolved the long-pending issue of tribals and tea garden workers in Assam; the historic Assam-Meghalaya Inter-State Boundary Agreement, signed in the presence of the Union Home Minister on 29th March, was aimed at settling the dispute of six out of the total twelve areas of an inter-state border dispute between the states of Assam and Meghalaya.
Shah’s efforts are yielding results. Compared with 2014, incidences of violence came down by 67% in 2022. During the same period, a casualty in security forces has decreased by 60, civilian deaths by 85%. A total of 8,000 militants have surrendered to come to the mainstream.
Accordingly, the periphery of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been largely reduced in the North East. The once-disturbed areas are now turning into aspiration zones. (ends)