Shillong, July 28: Union minister of state for minority affairs Vincent H. Pala, today said “mistrust, jealousy and hatred” were the root causes behind the violence in the Bodo belt of Assam.
“The clashes in the Bodo belt are a result of the tension and conflict among different sections of society,” he added, while stating that communal tensions have damaged the political structure in the country.
The Shillong Lok Sabha MP was speaking at the inauguration of the golden jubilee celebrations of the political science department of St Edmund’s College here.
The statements made by the minister of state echoed the words spoken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited the strife-torn areas today.
“Our country continues to see communalisation of politics, which is a threat to its development and integrity,” Pala said. He alleged that party tickets are given to candidates on the basis of caste and religion to ensure victory in elections.
The minister of state said communalism has given rise to new challenges like unemployment among youths and inequality among various sections. “This has created social unrest and even the politicians are taking advantage of such problems,” Pala alleged.
Talking about opening up of borders in South and Southeast Asia, the Shillong MP said once the borders are unfastened under the Look East Policy, development and growth would be witnessed in the Northeast. “At present, because of security issues the process is slow, but the Centre is serious about opening up borders,” Pala said.
The minister also said opening of border haats in Meghalaya and other parts of the region was a positive step in this direction. He said there were plans to improve and upgrade Umroi airport into an international airstrip.
“Once the region is opened up to South and Southeast Asia, Shillong would be the main business hub of the region, considering the historical significance of the city,” Pala said.
Earlier, past and present teachers of the political science department were felicitated. The department was started in 1962 under Prof. B. Dutta Ray.
Echoing the sentiments of various groups, Pala said the Centre should be involved in resolving the long-pending boundary dispute between Assam and Meghalaya.
“We want the central government to be involved in resolving the issue. At the same time, we do not want the Centre to impose anything on us,” the minister told reporters after the function.
Asked if he agreed with the suggestion to appoint an arbitrator between the two states to resolve the problem, Pala said, “There should be a mechanism to resolve this dispute.”
However, the Shillong MP did not spell out the mechanism, which can be utilised to resolve the conflict.
Pala also said during a recent meeting of the North East Congress Coordination Committee (NECCC), Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had stressed the need to resolve the boundary dispute mutually and peacefully.
According to the minister, Gogoi had said Assam was facing similar boundary issues with other neighbouring states and wanted all the disputes to be resolved amicably with all states.
Pala said the dispute would be discussed during the coordination committee meet to be held in Dimapur later this year. Recently, both Gogoi and his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul M. Sangma had expressed their keenness to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the conflict.