Kashmir is a class by itself. Pakistan’s role there is direct and therefore we are proactively dealing with the militant groups. In Assam, a ceasefire has no relevance.”
—Union home minister L.K. Advani in Guwahati on February 5, 2001
Less than a month after this statement, the home minister is now aggressively pushing for a unilateral ceasefire with all militant groups in the northeast. Senior home ministry sources say that if all goes well, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee should be announcing the ceasefire in Parliament.
What has made the Centre change its stand? Two factors are being cited here. One, elections to the Assam assembly are around the corner and therefore it is being seen as opportune to score some brownie points in the state by appearing magnanimous to the rebels. The other reason is that the ceasefire the government is observing since August 1997 with the dominant Naga rebel group, the Issac-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (nscn), has not yielded results mainly because other groups have objected to only this faction being given importance. By extending the ceasefire to the other groups, the Centre hopes to overcome this objection.