Letter from the Editor
In our last (October 2009 ) issue of Eastern Panorama, our cover story was on China’s claim over an extensive part of Arunachal Pradesh and we had suggested that development is the best way for India to maintain its control over Arunachal Pradesh. The conclusion of the elections to the Legislative Assembly in Arunachal Pradesh definitely suggests that this development is sure to continue as about 75% of the electorate in the state exercised their right to franchise and recalled Mr. Dorjee Khandu to the Chief Minister’s chair. It is beyond contestation that under his last tenure, there has been very rapid and very visible development in the state and this is sure to continue.
There is development in other parts of the region too such as in Meghalaya where the long awaited Shillong Bypass Project which has lain dormant for over two decades is finally underway. This much needed bypass has been stumbling along and making its sporadic journey to completion. It is indeed great to hear our Union Minister for Water Resources Mr. Vincent Pala when he informs us that 13 firms have been short - listed for the project which will start soon.
However, development has also become a cause of conflict and agitation in the region where several NGOs have opposed the state government’s move of entering into an agreement with the Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) to develop areas of the West Khasi Hills portion of the state which have reserves of uranium. These NGOs along with a majority of the people are of the belief that this development is just a ruse and have strongly opposed the move, opting for agitational measures such as rallies and road blockades.
Militancy is a major hurdle in the path to development and its removal totally changes the entire scenario as is evident in the North Cachar Hills district of Assam where the Dima Halam Daogah – J (Jewel faction) has enabled the state to resume the railway services in the region which had to be suspended because of frequent militant attacks.
On a sadder note, our cover story this month is on the atrocities perpetuated by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Ranjan Daimary Faction) in the remote village of Bhimajuli in Assam’s Sonitpur district. The people of this and adjoining villages have been suffering under the yoke of prolonged extortion by militant outfits and the residents of Bhimajuli had decided that enough was enough. They had resolved to no longer pay the militants and I am sure that they knew the consequences of this decision as I am sure that they thought that they could expect at least a little help from the government by way of protection. Little did they know of the lengths that the militants would go to as they descended upon the village and opened indiscriminate fire on the residents, thereby killing 15 people, some of whom were innocent children. Government protection was conspicuously absent even though there was prior knowledge of what was about to happen. This should never have happened, security forces should have been in place and the Assam government should have done more.