‘Connectivity key to containing militancy in NE’


BHUBANESWAR, March 20: Restoring of the traditional connectivity between the Northeastern region with its neighbouring countries would lead to waning of militancy in the insurgency-prone area, experts here opined.Speakers including retired Army generals, former diplomats, ambassadors of the neighbouring countries addressing the seminar ‘Purbasa: East meets East, Synergising the North-East and Eastern India with the Indo-Pacific’ expressed the opinion that connectivity hindrances, lack of infrastructure facilities had halted the state of progress in the North East.
A session on Regional Connectivity chaired by Prof SD Muni, who was a former Ambassador to Laos said that connectivity is actually re-connectivity, as connectivity was disrupted. “We focus on economic aspects, but we should keep in mind the cultural connectivity. And the role of conflict is preventing connectivity,” pointing towards the security threats in the Northeastern region and Myanmar.
Addressing the session, General Arvinder Lamba, former vice chief of Army Staff, said that the North East is an important area from the point of view of regional connectivity. He said it is important that insurgency is isolated from connectivity in keeping with the Act East Policy. In this connection, he referred to the Trilateral Highway and Kaladan Projects.
The General also pointed to the challenges from China and China-centric policies of some neighbouring countries and the impact of internal security of Bangladesh and Myanmar. There are at least 70 underground groups in all the three regions, he said.
Because of the multi-lateral budgeting process, insurgency in the North East has become an industry. The environment is that the State governments have not been able to insulate themselves from militancy. Threats loom over large areas of the Northeastern region and counter-terrorism must move forward, he opined.
Speakers also referred to how border trade was going on, suggesting that it will deliver the big bang. An expert pointed out how border trade between Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar was proving to be lucrative, as an example of border trade.
Some of the Ambassadors, particularly of Myanmar said that his country was suspicious of India’s Act East Policy because the aim apparently is to reach Thailand and beyond.
The Chairman of Myanmar Economic Association U Khin Maung Nyo said that Myanmar is suspicious of India’s Act East Policy. “Because when you look east, you are looking beyond Myanmar, may be Thailand,” he remarked.
He said that there was a need to see more connectivity upgrades. He also mentioned about some security concern.
Addressing the seminar, Minister (Economy) Japanese Embassy Kenko Sone said that North East has tremendous potential because of which his country has decided to invest in the region. The North East has potential to attract more Japanese investment. Japan is currently working to promote connectivity and develop infrastructure in the North East.
Meanwhile, Assam is collaboration with the Japanese Government is setting up a skill development programme to teach Japanese language to students, who would be subsequently recruited directly by the Japanese companies, informed the State Industries and Act East Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary. (Courtesy:AT)