Suryasikha Pathak

Sites of Conflict: The Politics of Identity and Insurgency in Post-colonial Northeast

The region known as the Northeast India encompasses the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Though Sikkim has been now
incorporated into the definition it is not a part of this talk. This is also a region, which shares
international boundaries with China, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh, which also makes it a
strategically important region for India. The seven states, or ‘Seven Sisters’ as they are popularly known, is home to at least thirty armed insurgent/militant organizations. The demands of these organizations are as varied as their ethnic composition and geographical location. While some militant group demand rights under the constitution or special status for the community they claim to represent, others have been leading movements for autonomy within the democratic structure of the Indian state, while others have agitated for separate state status within the region (for an ethnic group), and still others have been agitating for independence from India. Though it has been accepted that most of these movements are a fall-out of the developments or the lack of even development in post independent India, some of the movements have as long a history running parallel to the nation building process. All these organizations/ groups, old and new, have been perceived by the Indian state as a ‘law and order situation’ requiring military intervention and also constant negotiation for peace and conflict resolution. The civil society initiatives spearheaded demands for peace and also inquiry into instances of human rights violation by the state and the militant organizations. The region still grapples with these realities, which confronts its people and the plausible resolutions after endless peace accords and piecemeal solutions.

Dr. Suryasikha Pathak was awarded both her Doctorate degree and M. Phil degree from the
Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is
currently employed as a Lecturer in the Department of History, Assam University, Silchar,
Assam since October 2004. She also worked as a Research Associate in the Omeo Kumar Das
Institute for Social Change and Development, Guwahati, for a project titled “Governance in
Multi-Ethnic South and South East Asia: Experience of North East India, Myanmar and
Malaysia” under the CINISEAS, for the period September, 2003 to February, 2004.