| Strict vigil |
Guwahati, Aug. 24: The Unified Command structure in the state will don a new role as watchdogs of development activities to prevent diversion of funds, particularly to militant outfits. This is part of the Centre’s move to bring about systemic changes in functioning of the command to achieve the twin goals of peace and development.
Sources said the changes were on the cards because despite numerous successes since its creation in the nineties the Unified Command has not “delivered” the desired results.
The Centre is serious about “effective and practical” changes in the command to ensure that the government, the army, paramilitary officials work even more vigorously in their pursuit of lasting peace, said a source.
“The Unified Command will now have to go beyond mere counter-insurgency operations and effecting ceasefires, which have on occasions only resulted in things getting even more complicated,” the source added.
“The foot soldiers and officers alike have to keep their eyes and ears open to ascertain development activities being carried out and send feedback to the government from ground zero,” he said adding that diversion of funds to militant coffers was a major problem and a concerted effort involving various agencies was needed to root out this phenomenon.
Diversion of development funds to militant outfits became a big issue only recently when such instances were detected in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council prompting the Centre to hand over the case to the nascent National Investigation Agency.
A hint to change being in the air was given by Union home secretary G.K. Pillai in Imphal on Sunday where he said law and order and development issues had to be tackled together.
Before him, Union home minister P. Chidambaram during the meeting on internal security on August 17, had said some state governments have “allowed” themselves to “bend” before insurgent groups and that he would draw up state-specific strategies to deal with the insurgent groups.
Apart from keeping tabs on development activities in their area of operation by involving the gaonburahs, other suggestions to make the Unified Command more effective include ensuring complete coordination among its constituents — police, army and paramilitary — in letter and spirit.
These suggestions come in wake of reports about differences within the structure over the DHD (J) ceasefire offer.
In fact, the next command meeting will ensure to iron out these differences so that the constituents work towards a common goal without thinking about who gets the credit. The other suggestions are getting the Unified Command to come up with monthly and quarterly reports about the progress made during the period and sending those to the Centre.
Already, Chidambaram shares the progress of the home ministry with the media every month.
“One more thing that is being harped on is that the Unified Command meetings have to be very focussed, fixing targets and meeting these. Senior officials have to visit affected/disturbed sites to get on-the-spot information instead of relying on secondary sources. New ideas will have to be tried to make the Unified Command even more effective,” the source said.