Empowered councils way forward in northeast: Chidambaram

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

NEW DELHI - Formation of empowered autonomous district councils with necessary funds is “the way forward” in the troubled northeast of India, Home Minister P.Chidambaram said Wednesday.

Chidambaram was addressing a meeting of the Parliamnetary Consultative Committee of his ministry called to discuss “matters relating to insurgency” in the northeast and the peace process initiated by the government.

He said the constitution of India was “flexible and resilient enough to accommodate the aspirations of the people of the region” that has over 200 ethnic groups with distinct languages, dialects and socio-cultural identity.

“These groups want recognition of their identity and participation in governance. This aspiration can be fulfilled under the provisions of the Indian constitution,” he said.

Elaborating, Chidambaram said: “Formation of autonomous district councils with the necessary powers and funds is the way forward in the northeast.”

The proposed councils have to give adequate representation to minority ethnic groups, he said.

“These must be pluralistic in structure and must work on the principle of inclusive governance. There are outstanding examples of autonomous district councils in the northeast and the government wants to strengthen these institutions,” he said.

The home minister said the situation in the violence-hit region has shown remarkable improvement in 2010 as compared to the previous year.

“The number of incidents of violence and the casualties of civilians and security force personnel have come down,” he said, adding the government is in talks with nine insurgent groups from the northeast and “expects to reach agreements with some of them during the year”.

“The government is open to talks with groups which abjure violence,” he asserted.

Participating in the discussions, members welcomed the initiatives taken by the government and expressed happiness over the proposed talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) terror outfit.

Filed under: Terrorism

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