The most militarized areas of India’s have been the flashpoints of human rights violation in the country. In the name of crushing the insurgencies – whether in the Northeastern states or in Jammu and Kashmir – the state has often trampled upon the rights of unarmed civilians. Worst, it has promoted anti-insurgency groups, private militias and even armed the civilians directly.
Resolution of the conflicts and their transformation into dialogue based negotiation on issues of conflict is important for ensuring protection of rights on a sustainable basis. India has in recent years shown its willingness to negotiate with armed insurgencies – particularly in the NE. There are at present a dozen such ongoing ‘peace processes’ in this region. There is also a peace processes in Kashmir as well as with Pakistan. Much media attention is focused on the latter processes while those in the NE are seldom covered. One of the serious problems with these peace processes is the near total absence of civil society participation.
The parties at negotiation – both the state that claims to represent the people as well as the armed groups that claim to represent their community/ region – often keep the negotiations under wraps. The lack of information and awareness about issues involved in a negotiation makes for disenchantment once a deal is made between the parties. It also has in the past led to formation of new factions and groups within the same community/ region resulting in unending conflicts. Therefore The Other Media sees civil society involvement in peace dialogues as very critical for long term peace. The Other Media’s goal in this area will further facilitate the development of and mobilize the civil society, do necessary research, build linkages to facilitate civil society participation in peace processes.
Most of the festering conflicts in the North East owe their origin to the colonial character of the Indian State towards the political questions in the region. The State has persisted with the pre-colonial prism, which defined the frontiers as politico-military regions only. The policies in the region were motivated by the ‘security perspective’ of the Indian State wherein the multitude of struggles for autonomy and greater democratic and civil rights are viewed as ‘law and order’ and ‘security’ problems, which could be managed by an ever-increasing deployment of security forces. The Indian State has ignored political solutions to the questions of autonomy in the region and instead, resorted to increased militarisation to curb all such struggles.