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Give more autonomy to northeastern people, says Shashi Tharoor

News Agencies | Updated on: 17 March 2018, 15:11 IST

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has called for giving more autonomy to the northeastern people and not adopting a one-size-fits-all approach as different areas of the region have different problems.

Speaking at the launch of Avalok Langer's book on the Northeast, 'In Pursuit of Conflict', at Oxford Bookstore here last evening, Tharoor also voiced support for amending the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act as, according to him, it does more harm than good.

"I have a clearly point of view for as much autonomy as possible for the local people (of the northeastern states)," Tharoor said, calling for much attention to the needs and sensitivities of each area in the region.

Rather than an umbrella look, the Congress leader said it would be better to have at least half-a-dozen different perspectives of the area as the problems are not the same, even within the states.

There is a general miasma of ignorance, but beyond that ignorance, the specific area need to be dealt with specifically, he added.

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"Increasingly, we're gonna have to have a decentralised democracy. More areas that are distant from Delhi -- to the north, northeast or south -- are going to feel that it's not possible for them to have every decision having being taken in Delhi. I think it becomes rather important that we start defining the contours of autonomy and giving the details a substantive meaning," the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.

The former Union minister clarified that he was against self-determination as the northeastern states cannot function independently, broadly due to their small geo-economics.

Describing the language of the provisions in AFSPA as "offensive" to the sensibilities of any democrat, he said, "I think a significant section of the political establishment, certainly speaking for my party, would be in favour of amending (the) AFSPA.

"The provision for arrest without warrant are far too blanket. But, the revocation of the Act may be a step that would be politically difficult," the 62-year-old MP said.

"My understanding is that attempts that were made at a very high political level were essentially thwarted by the vehement opposition of the army," he said.

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Batting for systematic dialogue with the army regarding the Act, Tharoor said, "In any democratic country, to have a law that is seen by the public as conferring impunity for human rights violations, is always going to do more harm than good.

Talking about insurgency, he said that in a democratic state, anything can be discussed, provided it is not done at the point of a gun.

But, if the aggrieved parties come forward in a democratic manner and participate, then there would be more voices in favour of substantial autonomy, he added.


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First published: 17 March 2018, 15:11 IST