Sunday, June 16, 2024

Border violence in N-E: 76,000 still homeless


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From CK Nayak

 NEW DELHI: Nearly ten lakh people have been forced to flee their homes due to ethnic violence in North East India but mainly along the Meghalaya-Assam border over the past two decades.

But both the Centre and the respective state governments have failed in their duties to protect them, according to a report.

From the 1990s to the beginning of 2011, over eight lakh people were forced to flee their homes in episodes of inter-ethnic violence in western Assam, along the border between Assam and Meghalaya, and in Tripura.

According to conservative estimates, more than 76,000 of them are still living in displacement in November 2011.

However, in the absence of proper monitoring it is not known how many of the rest have been able to rebuild their lives, the report said.

These internally displaced people (IDPs) are not receiving the protection and assistance they need, according to a new report published by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

“Most of the people displaced in the ethnic violence have been forgotten,” said NRC Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson.

“State governments and district authorities have provided different levels of assistance.

However, this has generally been insufficient to make recovery of IDPs possible and ensure their continuing access to basic necessities.

For example, camps are often closed prematurely to push people to return to their homes despite ongoing threats to their security.” Rasmusson said.

While the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India gives some of the hundreds of indigenous groups in the North East greater control over the areas they live in, the autonomy which it offers has encouraged waves of inter-ethnic violence as groups seek to establish a local majority in order to qualify.

“The Government of India must take urgent steps to ensure that all people in the North East are safe, regardless of their ethnic identity, and to protect IDPs there,” said Rasmusson.

“The Government should pass an IDP law or draw up a national IDP policy in order to hold state and district authorities accountable with regard to protecting and supporting IDPs in their efforts to rebuild their lives, either in their places of origin or elsewhere in the country,” the Secretary General added.


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