Think of North East and the image of paradise on earth, with picturesque hills and green meadows and thousand of species of flora and fauna conjure up at the radar of mind. The cascade of excursions, the region offers, includes boating, rafting, trekking and hiking and many more out-door joys. There are a number of wild life sanctuaries and national parks where rare animals, birds and plants provide fascinating insight to the visitors.
The enchanting landscape of North East India has been a veritable salad bowl of various cultures, communities and faiths where, despite the churning of centuries, different tribes have maintained their dignified entities and way of life. It is the home of more than 166 separate tribes speaking different languages, dialects and scripts.
The North East frontier region spans over 2000 km of border with Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is connected to the rest of India by a narrow 20 km wide corridor of land. It is truly the most ethically and linguistically diverse regions in Asia. The dense jungles and rivers, the rains and thunderstorms make it unique monsoon area that adds to the mystic and charm of the region. It is an ideal setting for interminable romance. The mesmerizing festivals and celebrations reflect the ease and color of its vibrant people. North East India is often referred as ‘Seven Sisters’ comprising of seven states Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
Unfortunately, the region continues to be in the grip of terrorism and insurgency for the last 50 years. Despite the concerted efforts of governments at the center and states, North East feels neglected in one way or other. The problems are more complex in nature. These are social, political, economic and defense related. These are amply manifested in attitudes and consideration of future trepidation. The phenomenon of insurgency and relationship with the rest of India in terms of ethnicity and employment together with sporadic and frequents attacks on North Eastern youth in Delhi keeps the boat cruising in rough tides.
In such a situation, if a national party that is running the show at Delhi calls its nationals as IMMIGRANTS in its manifesto than there is something fundamentally askew in the undercurrents. A party that could boast the presence of knowledgeable intellectuals like Murli Manohar Joshi and M. J. Akbar at its disposal commits a blunder than is unforgivable.
BJP’s Vision Document for the Delhi election has a statement that says “North eastern immigrants to be protected”. And the document says it is a “comprehensive document covering all aspects, authored by a very experienced senior Delhi BJP team”.
Caught in the election cleft stick and under attack from rest of Opposition, the BJP is rushing to correct its “mistake” of terming the northeast people as “immigrants.” The changed script is transfigured to “the brothers and sisters of the northeast are the pride of Delhi”.
But the damage is already done. The BJP move came after the Congress asked if the saffron party considered people from the northeast like foreigners. Congress campaign chief Ajay Maken, while releasing the party manifesto, asked: “Does the BJP want to say that the northeast is not part of the country?”
Ironically, the most curious situation developed when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was visiting China, which lays claim to Arunachal Pradesh. Not to forget that there had been many incidents of attacks on people from the region in Delhi recently.
BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar later said the party was withdrawing the word “immigrant” and that it was “mistakenly used”
By: Naim Naqvi