Killings, kidnappings in northeast down: UPA report


New Delhi : The number of people killed or kidnapped in India's restive northeast has significantly declined since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, according to the Report to the People 2006-07 released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday.

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"The numbers of incidents of civilians and security personnel killed and persons kidnapped in the northeast have registered a significant decline over the past three years compared to earlier years," stated the report brought out to mark the third anniversary of the UPA government.

According to the report, several militant groups in the region including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isaac/Muivah (NSCN-I/M), National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Khaplang (NSCN-K), United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), National Liberation Front of Tripura – Nayan Bashi (NLFT-NB), National Liberation Front of Tripura – Montu Koloi-Kamini group (NSCN-KMK), Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) have entered into agreements for suspension of their operations.

"Talks are also being held with all these outfits, except NSCN(K)," it stated, adding that all these talks have progressed in a constructive manner and have contributed to relieving the sense of alienation among some of people.

A special package of Rs.550 million has been approved in pursuance of the memorandum of settlement entered into with the NLFT-NB and another agreement has been signed between BNLF and the Mizoram government for the return of the Bru/Reang tribe from Tripura to Mizoram during the UPA government's term, according to the report.

To wean away the youth of the northeast from the path of violence, several steps have been taken during the three years like reserving jobs in the border guarding forces and extending Operation Sadbhavana, which has been in force in Jammu & Kashmir, to the northeast to provide vocational training to people.

"The UPA government has improved the scheme for surrender and rehabilitation of militants in the northeast," it added.

Interestingly, the report made no mention of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), with which the government failed to hold talks last year. The outfit is suspected to be behind a series of violent acts in Assam, especially since January.

The UPA progress card listed the approval of the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the Northeast (SARDP-NE) and the introduction of a new comprehensive industrial policy for the region as the key initiatives taken by the government to accelerate economic growth and improve social and economic infrastructure.

Stating that connectivity is the key to the development of the northeast, it stated: "It (SARDP-NE) envisages improvement of about 7,639 km of national highways, state roads and general staff roads, involving a total of 83 roads, bridgeworks etc. This will ensure connectivity with national highways to 34 hitherto unconnected district headquarters at a total estimated cost of Rs.12,123 crore (Rs.121.23 billion)."

The report said that work to lay new railway lines in the Kumarghat-Agartala and the Jiribam-Tupul (Imphal Road) sections and gauge conversion of the Lumding-Silchar section have been taken up at a total estimated cost of Rs.34.50 billion to provide broad gauge connectivity for Silchar and the state capitals of Tripura, Manipur and Nagaland.

It noted that the government would introduce a bill in parliament for declaring the 121-km Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch along the Barak river in southern Assam as national waterway.

The report also cited the new industrial policy for the northeast, which came into effect March 31, as an important initiative to promote industries in the region.

"A more liberal new industrial and investment promotion policy for the northeast has been approved, continuing 100 percent excise duty and income tax exemption on finished products made in the northeast and doubling of capital subsidy to 30 percent of the investment in plant and machinery given on investment by new as well as existing units for 10 years. Sikkim has also been covered for the first time."

The report also listed out steps taken for development of sectors like power, health and education in the region.

It also mentioned the incentives for officers of the all India services like incentive package covering more attractive norms for inter-cadre deputation, opportunity in training abroad, annual home travel concession by air and reimbursement of cost of children education to encourage to them to serve in the northeast.

The annual report, the third released by the UPA government since it came to power in May 2004, is an attempt to ensure accountability in governance.

"There is much we have done in these three years, but much more that we need to do to win the war against poverty, ignorance and disease, and the fight against extremism, communalism and terrorism," Manmohan Singh stated in the foreword to the report.