December 10, 2019
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'Advani Doesn't Know Ground Realities'

'Advani Doesn't Know Ground Realities'
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Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has been in the chair for exactly a month and his problems are mounting by the day. Assam may not have seen the kind of violence that Manipur did in response to the extension of the ceasefire with the NSCN(IM) to contiguous areas of the northeast, but Gogoi is aware of the simmering discontent. In an interview, he spells out the reason why he is worried about the Centre's "unwise" move. Excerpts:

You seem to be quite upset after the extension of the ceasefire... We were not even consulted. How can the Centre do this unilaterally? We could easily have been taken into confidence. This is a very sensitive issue.

How then did you come to know about the move?
The home secretary in New Delhi sent a fax to my chief secretary about the extension. That is how I came to know. This is no way to handle something as politically sensitive as this.

You have said that Assam will never agree to the concept of what they call Greater Nagaland.
We just cannot concede any land from Assam to carve out another state. If we do it, the Kukis will be up in arms for a Greater Manipur, the Khasis will be up in arms for a Greater Meghalaya. There will be no end to it. The Nagas are not the only tribe who live in Assam.

Are you opposed to the extension of the ceasefire with NSCN(IM) even in Nagaland?
No, not at all as long as it is confined to Nagaland. But the moment it is extended we have a problem on our hand since militant activities will increase in at least five districts—Jorhat, Golaghat, Sibsagar, North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong.

What was the outcome of your meeting with the home minister?
He just said he would take care of things and that I should not worry. But I told him, 'Please withdraw the ceasefire from my state.' And explained why it should be confined to Nagaland. I told him of the dangers involved. He said that the Centre will not concede to the insurgents and will not allow them to create trouble. But clearly, the home minister does not know the ground realities in Assam. It is not going to be easy.

Is there a solution to the entire ceasefire crisis?
The solution is, let not this peace process be confined to Nagaland. Yes, we want peace in Nagaland. But why not peace in the other states? What the Centre should have done is to work out a comprehensive peace package for all the insurgent groups of the northeast. This is our demand.
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