The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Allegations of human rights violations are not new to governments battling insurgents and terrorists. Assam’s chief minister, Mr Tarun Gogoi, need not be unduly perturbed over the complaint that his government is organizing “open killings” in the name of fighting secessionists. The manner in which the All Assam Students’ Union has raised the allegation suggests that it is politically motivated. The AASU has compared the “open killings” of Mr Gogoi’s regime with the “secret killings” allegedly sponsored by the government led by the Asom Gana Parishad. It is regrettable that the AASU, while hurling the accusations at Mr Gogoi, did not care to condemn the grenade attack on the state capital. Obviously, the AASU, which has long been an ally of the AGP, wanted to make political capital out of the Dispur incident and use it to run down Mr Gogoi’s government. With insurgent outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland unleashing fresh violence, Mr Gogoi would be failing in his duty if he does not act strongly enough to counter the menace. The state cannot shirk its responsibility of protecting the common people.

If the AASU has accused him of doubtful action, the state’s governor, Mr S.K. Sinha, has charged him with inaction. The chief minister has understandably taken offence at the governor complaining in public that the state government has an “ostrich-like attitude” to infiltration and cross-border terrorism. It may be debated if the governor did the right thing by decrying his own government in public. His allegation that there are four million Bangladeshi infiltrators in the state could spark a fear psychosis among the Assamese. Worse still, his remark that Islamic fundamentalists plotted to incorporate Assam into Bangladesh could create diplomatic problems with the neighbouring country. It cannot be anyone’s case that the state government should ignore the magnitude of the problem of infiltration. Evidence of Pakistan’s help to the ULFA and of the rebel camps inside Bangladesh should tell Mr Gogoi that Mr Sinha’s perception of the terrorist threat to the state is not without its basis. Instead of joining issue with the governor on these, Mr Gogoi should take the former’s remarks as well-meaning warnings and gear up his administration to meet the challenges. After all, the problem of infiltration and the threat of cross-border terrorism have plagued the state for long. The governor, too, hinted at the failure of successive governments in dealing with these. They may not be Mr Gogoi’s creations, but they remain his — and Assam’s — major problems.

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