The woes of North-East


The following article written by Madhusudan S, a member of New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India), is based on his experiences on a recent visit to North-Eastern India. The article appeared in the Jan-Feb 2012 edition of Dudiyora Horaata (Workers’ Struggle).

The scenic, beautiful and culturally diverse states of the North Eastern frontier really are a “Paradise Unexplored” for the world. But within the “Seven Sisters” lies deep roots of agony and misery, entwined by the historic exploitation by the Indian ruling class and various secessionist movements that has become a daily reality in most parts of the North-East. While the various armed rebellion movements seeking separation have mushroomed as a reaction to the excesses of the Indian state, nevertheless they
too have become a source of brutality for the ordinary people in most parts of the North-East.

The barbaric and hateful Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has kept the people under the barrels of the mighty Indian Army. But rather than bringing down the insurgency in the region, the AFSPA has only added fuel to the fire that has led to a proliferation of more self-proclaimed militant groups. Amidst this turmoil is the active exploitation of the ethnic divisions among the people of the North-East by the Indian ruling class leading one ethnic group fighting against another.

For example, one such Militant group namely GNLA – Garo National Liberation Army, an outfit mostly active in the western areas of Meghalaya state and claiming to champion the cause of the “Garo” tribe of Meghalaya. It is using ethnic and cultural divisions between Meghalaya’s more integrated ethnic groups like the “Khasi” and the “Gaintya” tribes and the more neglected “Garo” tribe, in raising the demand for a “Sovereign Garoland”.

Formed in 2009 by a former top-cop, Pakchara R. Sangma, this outlawed group has been notorious in killing, abduction, extortion, bomb blasts and attacks on the Security Forces. This in turn is only legitimizing the intervention of the security forces which in turn will only lead to more suppression of the “Garo” people by the Indian state instead of any sort of liberation as envisaged by its so called liberators.

While the entire North East has become a battle zone of sorts with various contending militant groups on the one hand and the active suppression of people of the North-East by the Indian State under the draconian AFSPA, the woes of the people never ends. In the absence of an genuine socialist alternative at hand and with no other solution in sight, especially in the absence of a democratic institutions like in the Indian mainland (however flawed) and almost colonial relations with mainland India, all sorts of outfits have started to fill the vacuum.

What is missing in the whole debate, is the role of capitalism that has utterly failed in developing the region of the North-East. This is especially so with the talk of India achieving 8-9% growth in the past decade which has had no positive impact on the vastly underdeveloped regions of the North-East and thus pointing to the skewed and uneven development under capitalism. Of course the problems in the North-East are aplenty and any solution to this problem lies in addressing the crucial national question which the Indian ruling class is utterly incapable of addressing.

repeal AFSPA now! – The unjust law that brutalizes the people of North-east and Kashmir

Madhusudan S