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Action Plan for the Northeast

T. Ananthachari

By Jaideep Saikia
Vision Books, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 224, Rs. 395.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

The Seven Sisters, which is the more popular name for our north-eastern states, have always evoked great interest, be it from the point of view of tribal issues and studies or on issues of development, culture etc. The area has also been the scene of many security problems. For many years, the Northeast has been in the grip of insurgency. In recent times the ‘look east’ policy has added an extra dimension to the region. Apart from the inherent problems, which a ‘Frontier’ poses for the ‘Nation’, there are some special features, which make the Northeast a vital player in our national security and territorial integrity. Five of the seven states share their borders with Bangladesh—Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh being the exceptions. For long, almost since Independence, these states have been facing the onslaught of illegal migration from the erstwhile East Pakistan and subsequently, Bangladesh. Insurgency of varying intensity has been afflicting parts of the Northeast for decades. Often, Bangladesh has been accused of lending direct and indirect support to many of the anti-India insurgent groups active in the Northeast. What is more, in recent times, fingers are being pointed at Bangladesh for promoting other kinds of anti-India activities, which pose a direct threat to our national security, territorial integrity and our much-cherished secular fabric.      Jaideep Saikia, the author of Terror Sans Frontiers: Islamist Militancy in North East India has attempted to lay bare some of the realities which are at the root of many of the problems mentioned above. These are relevant and deserve notice not only in the public domain but also in the corridors of policy making at various levels. In the course of the 162 pages spread over five chapters, the author looks at two main thrust areas, which have major national security overtones. Besides the ‘invasive design’ of Bangladesh to ‘change the demography’ by ‘illegal immigration’, the author has highlighted the dangers inherent in the attempt of the ‘fundamentalists’ in Bangladesh ‘engineering’ ‘religious fundamentalism and division’ with a view to ‘usurp the mantle from the ethnically based insurgent movements which have been flourishing in the region’. There can be no two opinions about the need for urgent attention to these issues. The author sees a definite link between the ‘Islamist militancy movement’ and the support base for this movement which is taking shape among the ‘illegal migrant population whose ideology and socio-religious commitments continued to ...

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