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Not a time to be so opaque

india Updated: Aug 17, 2012 23:44 IST
Hindustan Times
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The exodus of North-easterners from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune after threats of physical attacks, the source of which are now being probed by the home ministry and the Intelligence Bureau, is a symptom of a deep-rooted malaise that administrators and politicians accept only when they are forced to. The unfortunate part is that they do precious little about all this once the storm passes. The problem is an old one and is widely known: the neglect of the region and its lack of integration with 'mainland' India. The mistrust is so deep that despite the best efforts of the state governments, particularly Karnataka, and the assurances of the prime minister and senior Opposition leaders in Parliament on Friday, there is no stopping Northeasterners from fleeing Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. In fact, many Northeasterners have categorically stated that they don't believe that the state governments will do enough to ensure their safety. It's a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the country: people have more faith in being with their own communities than in the administrators who are supposed to protect every Indian, irrespective of which part of the country they come from.

With the State machinery now in action, hopefully peace will be restored in some time. The demand of earning a livelihood and the lack of opportunities in that part of the country will again push many from the NE to venture to other parts. But the scars and fear will remain, and the memories could trigger similar episodes later in other parts of the country. In any case, people from the Northeast are constantly discriminated against in most parts of the country.

For starters, the government must continue to assure the people from the NE that enough and more is being done to ensure that they are not attacked by members of any other community. Second, this is equally important, the intelligence agencies must find out how the rumours started and who circulated the doctored MMS and make the information public. According to reports, the ministry of home affairs has already identified the website responsible for spreading rumours and has ordered investigations into the owner of the blog. More often than not, governments forget to place before the people the source of such problems once peace returns: who started it, what was the intent and what has been done to ensure that problems don't arise again. Importantly, the central government must focus on who started the riots in Assam earlier in the month and which religious/community leaders were responsible for the carnage and how the struggle over the resources in Assam, which was behind the clashes, can be solved amicably.

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