Photo Essay : - NE, A forgotten India, 2007
- For the Norwegian Refugees Council/ IDMC -
The Northeast of India is connected to the rest of the country by the thirty kilometre-wide Shiliguri corridor - often called the Chicken’s
Neck. This region is divided into seven states, nicknamed The 7 Sisters: Arunachal Pradesh, Asom, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Na-
galand, and Tripura. Despite its geographical isolation, the region is home to 200 of the 430 ethnic groups listed in India and a great religious, cultural and traditional richness.
Assam, the largest of The 7 Sisters, is one of the areas subject recurrent conflicts. Assam is subject to a multitude of conflicts. Depending on the region, the communities as well as political and economic circumstances, the conflicts - and victims - are all different.
The insurgent groups of various communities or political groups use violent methods - terrorizing the population, burning houses, im-
posing arbitrary taxes and practising ethnic cleansing, in order to voice their claims which differ according to their loyalties. Some of them claim regional autonomy or state sovereignty, others to defend land and resources or to exclude or marginalize other ethnic groups or immigrants.
The victims are mainly civilians, members of ‘rival’ groups, minorities and immigrants (from Bangladesh, Nepal or central India in order to work on tea plantations or in brick factories). These mobile populations have been accorded the status of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). As opposed to the status of refugee (with which comes international assistance) IDPs remain under the protection of the national government and as such should have the same rights as the rest of the population.
Caught up in conflict for more than 30 years, army and/or paramilitary presence (depending on the region) doesn’t seem to present an adequate solution. For the IDPs, whatever the political, economic or territorial issue, the result is the same - they don’t have the rights to a decent life. In 2008, more than 200.000 persons remain displaced in Assam.