Indian investigators have concluded that the inflammatory clippings circulated on the internet/cell phones, targeting the north-easterners were not only morphed and doctored, but also uploaded from Pakistan. One cannot exclude the involvement of proxy servers and private network services which can hide user identity for uploading such content in India, but the claim hopefully will give the people of the north east region the much needed conviction and courage to return to the place from where they rushed out.
If some unsubstantiated calls and MMS have the potential to trigger such an exodus, it simply exposes the tenuous social fabric in which we live in, indicating that the people lack confidence in the government, fellow citizens and society at large. This is tragic, which simply means, that the government’s performance is mediocre because considering that apart from a handful of minor incidents in Bangalore (which may be incidental or not linked to the authors of the MMS), there was indeed no good reason for the people from NE to flee in panic, abandoning their jobs, studies and even their salaries.
The recent trouble dates to 20 July when four members of the Bodo Liberation Tigers were killed in a Muslim-dominated area. This triggered anti-Muslim sentiments, though the murderers remained unknown. Politicians used the opportunity to direct the ire against Bangladeshi immigrants, claiming all Muslims were illegal Bangladeshis. This is untrue because several immigrants also hail from Bihar and other neighbouring states.
But the genesis of the problem dates back to the festering feeling of alienation. This feeling has nurtured and grown over the years, with discrimination and harassment at workplace, and ragging at educational institutions. Insecurity has grown over the years, which has resulted in the slightest trigger leading to panic-type situations. True, the north-easterners have a dominating mongoloid influence, strongly characterized by their straight hair and comparatively narrow eyes, but, thankfully, they feel at home in Goa. There’s however a greater need for these people to be showered with a warmer response by fellow Indians elsewhere.
There is no denying that fellow citizens have contributed to the psychosis. Even armed forces in the region, have abused their powers with instances of villagers being arrested on mere suspicion and those killed in custody branded as terrorists, with forces escaping penal action. To make matters worse, successive governments have chronically neglected the region. Even a chance to see some sort of attention paid to the area was squandered with PA Sangma losing the presidential race.
Now, the government ought to follow its professed claims of development with inclusive growth. The north east must be explored for tourism activity with a comprehensive infrastructure development plan. Land laws have to be changed to prevent encroachment in the Northeast, so that encroachers from neighbouring states are given land to the landless in their home state. There should be zero-tolerance to prejudice against ethnic or other minorities. Those responsible for the threatening SMS messages must be apprehended and punished. Blaming the “foreign hand” for the woes facing the country is the easy way out. Intelligence agencies must therefore spare no effort to identify these elements. Reassurances of security aside, what the panic-stricken people need are immediate steps on the ground that enhance security and ensure peace