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'NE issues finally heard after decades'

For RTI activist from Assam and core member of Team Anna, Ramlila Ground, the Ground Zero of Anna Hazare's epic fast, is turning out to be a platform and an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the issues of the Northeast region. Sanjib Kr Baruah reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 25, 2011 00:16 IST
Sanjib Kr Baruah

For RTI activist from Assam and core member of Team Anna, Ramlila Ground, the Ground Zero of Anna Hazare's epic fast, is turning out to be a platform and an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the issues of the Northeast region.

"For the first time since the 1942 movement, problems facing the Northeast region are finding an audience here," said Gogoi, who has also been at the forefront of an ongoing campaign against the setting up of more than 160 hydroelectricity projects across Arunachal Pradesh.

"When the floods take place with alarming regularity, it is Assam's problem, but when the water is required for hydroelectricity generation, it belongs to the entire Nation," he said.

Indicating that issues relating to the Northeast will find increasing focus at Ramlila Ground, Gogoi said: "Two issues are being laid bare before the public here. One is the devastation that the floods create every year and the other being the culture of all-pervasive corruption in the NE states as is exemplified by the Rs 1,000 crore scam in Assam's North Cachar Hills."

Asked about the support the 74-year-old's fast has generated in the Northeast, Gogoi said: "Support is growing by the day. All the states of the Northeast have joined in."

Manipur's 'Iron Lady' Irom Sharmila who has been fasting for the last decade demanding removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA), had expressed her inability to join the fast at Ramlila as she was still in judicial custody in Imphal. Interestingly, she has extended an invite to Anna Hazare to come to Manipur 'the most corruption-affected region in the world'.

The AFSPA allows security forces personnel the power to arrest, search, and destroy property bereft of a warrant and to shoot, and even kill, on mere suspicion.