Parts of the Northeast have been engaged in a relentless war with the Indian State for more than seven decades, experiencing political and cultural alienation. Avalok Langer, a young conflict journalist, was drawn to it, because he thought it would make for great copy – tribal wars, separatist groups, drugs and illegal taxation.
He travels across the Northeast, home to numerous underground movements, gaining access to top separatist leaders. One such leader tells him their war had military patronage from China, Myanmar and Bangladesh; an ex-general of an underground group admits that he travelled to China disguised as a Christian missionary; and a former separatist cooks him a wonderful meal. He studies the people’s rage against AFSPA; anger about the racial discrimination faced by youth who leave their homes to seek education and employment in mainland India; the widespread use of drugs and also the cultivation of narcotics for subsistence. Langer tells these and more stories of a long and difficult war.
A compulsively vivid account told with compassion and a lightness of touch, In Pursuit of Conflict is a call to the Indian State to wake up and take note of what is possibly one of the most geopolitically significant parts of its territory.