09/05/2005: "Border trade beckons Naga villages"
Border trade beckons Naga villages Newmai News Network
Kohima, Sept 4: Once they displayed business sense by donating money to Myanmar villagers to construct roads. Villagers of Meluri area of Nagaland have got wiser, shifting an entire village in a bid to make most of potential international border trade. Early this year, some villages on the Indo-Myanmar international border donated money to Myanmar villages to construct roads. Results are showing and 10 km of Myanmar territory from the international border is motorable.
Going a step ahead, people of Avangkhu a hamlet of 20-odd houses, have shifted lock, stock and barrel close to the international border. "It makes sense business will begin shortly and the land near the international trade centre belongs to Avangkhu," said legislator Yitachu. A team of senior officials from the Union Commerce ministry paid a visit to the area in April to assess the prospects of the international trade centre. Yitachu claimed that this area was the only viable route for trade with Myanmar. Partly true, admit observers, as the international trade centre at Longwa in Mon district has slim chances to prosper in absence of road in Myanmar.
On the contrary, there is an 18-km North East Council (NEC) road under construction from the border to Phongkhungri. A Rs. 12 crore project, the council has already sanctioned Rs. 6 crore for the road.
Avangkhu is eight km from the border and they have begun constructing a new settlement by shifting four km closer. Hope is on long-term business prospects. People in the area know that a ferry service on the Chindwin river ferries people from Yangon to Thimanti. This small town is about 100 km from Leshi sub-division in Myanmar that is just 25 km from the border. It will be a 14-hour road from Dimapur to Leshi, sources said For those willing to shift, there are other benefits, too.
As the villagers shift, they will be closer to the terrace fields and will save time and resources in agriculture besides earning an advantage in business. Relocation of villages was not so common here though forming new ones is popular. In the last five years alone, 39 new villages have been formed in Nagaland to make a total of 1083 village development boards. VDBs get grants from the state government. Meanwhile, another village Yisi in Meluri area under Phek district has also decided to shift from its current location. "They will take advantage of better communication and roads," said the legislator. Yisi used to be a big village with 600 houses.
Over the years, due to lack of infrastructure villagers formed 14 new hamlets.
Wise villagers relocate to gain from border trade
KOHIMA, Sept 4: Once they displayed business sense by donating money to Myanmar villagers to construct roads. Villagers of Meluri area have got wiser shifting an entire village in a bid to make most of potential international border trade. Early this year, some villages on the Indo-Myanmar international border donated money to Myanmar villages to construct roads. Results are showing and 10 km of Myanmar territory from the international border is motorable. Going a step ahead, people of Avangkhu a hamlet of 20-odd houses, have shifted lock, stock and barrel close to the international border. "It makes sense business will begin shortly and the land near the international trade centre belongs to Avangkhu," said legislator Yitachu. A team of senior officials from the Union Commerce ministry paid a visit to the area in April to assess the prospects of the international trade centre.
Yitachu claimed that this area was the only viable route for trade with Myanmar. Partly true, admit observers, as the international trade centre at Longwa in Mon district has slim chances to prosper in absence of road in Myanmar. On the contrary, there is an 18-km North East Council (NEC) road under construction from the border to Phongkhungri. A Rs. 12 crore project, the council has already sanctioned Rs. 6 crore for the road. Avangkhu is eight km from the border and they have begun constructing a new settlement by shifting four km closer. Hope is on long-term business prospects.
People in the area know that a ferry service on the Chindwin river ferries people from Yangon to Thimanti. This small town is about 100 km from Leshi sub-division in Myanmar that is just 25 km from the border. It will be a 14-hour road from Dimapur to Leshi, sources said For those willing to shift, there are other benefits, too. As the villagers shift, they will be closer to the terrace fields and will save time and resources in agriculture besides earning an advantage in business. Relocation of villages was not so common here though forming new ones is popular. In the last five years alone, 39 new villages have been formed in Nagaland to make a total of 1083 village development boards.
VDBs get grants from the state government. Meanwhile, another village Yisi in Meluri area under Phek district has also decided to shift from its current location. "They will take advantage of better communication and roads," said the legislator. Yisi used to be a big village with 600 houses. Over the years, due to lack of infrastructure villagers formed 14 new hamlets. (NNN)
Cong for fresh civic polls in Nagaland Assam Tribune
KOHIMA, Sept 4 – Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee has demanded fresh elections to local urban bodies after Gauhati High Court quashed the appointment of the chairman and the deputy chairman of Chumukedima Town Council. The party said as the High Court quashed two government notifications pertaining to appointment of town council chiefs, the state government should immediately declare null and void elections to all chairmen and deputy chairmen of local urban bodies and order fresh municipal polls in the entire state. The court had in a judgement on August 23 quashed the government notifications which allowed the nominated members to vote in the elections of chairman and deputy chairman. But the constitutional provision does not allow this.
Earlier, the Governor Shyamal Dutta had returned the Nagaland Municipal Act without giving his ascent, pointing out that the bill did not take into consideration the provision of 33 per cent seat reservation for women and granted voting rights to the nominated members of municipal and town councils, which were ultravires to the Constitution. Leader of the Opposition I Imkong of Congress said that he had written to the chief minister demanding countermanding of elections of all chairmen and deputy chairmen of municipal bodies and asked the government to hold fresh polls in the state. Copies of the letter were submitted to the governor and the chief secretary.
Except Mokokchung, elections to Kohima and Dimapur municipal councils and 16 town councils were held in November last year. Official sources said the amended bill is likely to be introduced for consideration and passing during the next session of the assembly. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio last month told the state assembly that the government would follow the existing act till the amendment was passed by the house. – PTI
Emotional Integration Source: Leader writer: RK Lakhi Kant Kangla on Line
Integration has become a slogan which is being voiced in all the corners of the state today. It has become a very relevant point at this moment when the tension between the communities residing in the state has reached an all time high. The throats of all the people who are shouting for it are even hoarse with the effort. Integration is a very high ideal and a beautiful word in the context of the situation in Manipur in the present time but this refined word has become almost an empty sound as there is no emotion behind the cry for it from various quarters. People are crying for peace and harmony between Nagas and Meiteis specifically and the other communities in general but the cries are more passionate than sublime. Emotion in our relationship with each other can be brought about only if we are right thinking and sincere. Emotion is a tender and inner feeling which cannot be coaxed by coarse methods. The ways we can employ in making our relations emotional are many i.e. through political, historical, social or cultural based dialogues between the communities.
The main point in this present tension between communities in the state is not a question of which side is successful in deriving how much out of their stated positions but the answer to our problems lies in how we would be able to live with each other peacefully without harming each others’ interests. We may even wonder how the communities in Manipur especially the Nagas and Meiteis have arrived at such a point in time where each is forgetting its long historical and social binding with the other. Throughout our relationship through the thousands of years we have never faced such a predicament. The relations have been smooth and harmonious for ages. One may then wonder why this danger of a schism between the two people has cropped up. The answer is difficult to find as these are times when falsely motivated groups have overlapped our customs and traditions with their own ideas and the people in general have started believing in these false propaganda thus completely distorting the real nature of the harmony that has prevailed in Manipur since a long time between all the communities. We have a history of peaceful brotherhood between the two communities and it is only vested interests who have brought us to this point of disintegration. If we are swayed by these loosening ties and separate from each other in the end we would both stand as fools with our follies.
Today our sovereignty and freedom is not threatened from outside forces or a different people. We are not guarding ourselves against a foreign nation. The problem is domestic and is a matter to be settled within the family. Our integration should not be fractured by the outside forces. We want to take the help of the Central government but we have nothing to take from them. The matter must be solved by our own people. This will also make us grow in stature in front of the other Indians. All this can happen if the ingredient of emotion is ahead of our passions in our dealings with each other. We must not lose the shared history that our forefathers have presented to us.
Reassessing the British Era Source: IMPHAL FREE PRESS Posted: 2005-09-01
It is amusing, but indicative of a serious flaw in the interpretation of a historical saga that two opposing sides of a conflict should be using the same saga to prove contrary points. While defenders of Manipur integrity show no doubt that it is the “divide and rule” policy of the British colonisers which had fractured close fraternal bonds between communities in Manipur, predetermining in this sense the present day political turmoil, Naga integration campaigners too suffer from no sense of academic flimsiness in their claim that an integrated Naga country was arbitrarily cut up into pieces in keeping with the ulterior motives of the same colonial masters. Well, the same saga cannot possibly mean both these conflicting views at the same time. It has either got to be one or the other, or else neither. We are inclined to believe the third option is closer to the truth. The dominant recourse of historical interpreters in Manipur that sees all its present day problems as a legacy of such a “divide and rule” policy, falls quite in line with a once dominant, (but now accorded diminishing importance) ultra-nationalistic historical narrative of the Indian nation as such, hence finds a degree of acceptability. It is only when the same logic begins to be transferred to the equation of the state’s affair vis a vis the Indian Union in the post Independence era that eyebrows are raised. The root of the Naga’s rectilinear historical vision is different. It basically has to do with the phenomenon of nascent nationality formation. Such a newly formed awareness of a community that awoke only recently from a pre-modern era, will also have to be necessarily built not on a foundation of written records but myths and folklores and other rudimentary community memories, none of which can be an accurate gauge of reality. In short, no written records have been available to the Nagas to discipline imaginations on what they conceive is their history which supposedly dated back to “time immemorial.
Whatever else the British were, they were supremely efficient colonial revenue managers. If they were for instance, diamonds and gold to be prospected in the Naga Hills, or Manipur, let us have no doubt the history of these places would have been totally different. The British did not even fully bring the Naga Hills under its administrative umbrella, categorizing a larger section it into partially excluded and excluded territory. In other words, the British did not bother to set up a revenue management administrative network (which is exactly what a colonial administration is about) in much of the Naga Hills, precisely because there were no worthwhile revenue to be had. Their presence in these hills was basically strategic, namely to control the Angamis who periodically raided and created havoc in Upper Assam where the British already had tremendous interest in the lucrative tea gardens. To make it a boasting point that the British never conquered the Nagas would be only a half truth, and akin to boasting that the Americans also never conquered the Nagas. There was absolutely no need or motive for such a conquest at all. In Manipur, it was very nearly the same story. The British took the opportunity of a palace intrigue to intervene in the erstwhile kingdom’s affairs and post a permanent presence there on strategic considerations of controlling a bridgehead to its other colonies in South East Asia, and not because they coveted any exploitable wealth. The Second World War experience, in which Imphal and Kohima proved to be the turning point of the Japanese campaign in the Pacific region, proved the accuracy of the foresight of the British. There must have been “divide and rule” strategies here and there to neutralize pockets of oppositions, but never a sustained, sinister and long term ones, not because the British were incapable of it, but because there would have been no need or justification for the colonial economy to expend resources in doing so. In Manipur, if the British introduced a separate political administrative mechanism for the hills, its chief reason is not likely to be “divide and rule”, as it is the wont of so many fiery speech makers to allege, but because under the then monarchy, there would likely have been no clear-cut mechanism for making the benefits of the government reach the backward hills. Our intent is not to prove the innocence of the British colonisers from dirty politics, but more to deflate some hot airs from our own egos, so that we can see our situation on more realistic terms, and from such a standpoint proceed to solve our problems. We must learn to call a spade a spade, even if we ourselves are guilty of being a spade.
Incomprehensive Peace Source: The Imphal Free Press Posted:
The incomprehensive nature of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) is loudly evident in the continued and unobstructed taxation (extortion) by the underground organization in the areas that it is in operation. It is anybody’s guess that arms stockpiling as well as recruitment drives would still be on too, otherwise where would be the need for the extortion money. The ceasefire has not meant a freezing of any of these activities, which incidentally form the core of any insurrection. So the question is, what exactly is the nature of the peace the ceasefire is said to have ushered in, for all the known activities that makes an insurgency an insurgency, except open hostility between the insurgents and the government forces, are still on in this particular theatre. We are not at all suggesting that the ceasefire be called off but that these aspects be first taken care of by the Union government. The responsibility of meeting the consequences of such a ceasefire must be born by the government and not left to be shouldered by the people. As of today, it is extremely unfair and beyond logic that the people, rather than the government, is being made to bear this extremely high cost of the ceasefire.
We can suggest one thing for a start. Let the Union government pay the monetary price for the kind of peace it seeks, literally. Let it come to an agreement with the NSCN(IM) as to what the annual budget of the latter is, and then pay the amount to it, on the condition that the underground organization makes a complete halt to extortion. Let this be an inalienable and strict condition of the ceasefire. We would make the same recommendation should the Government of India decide to go into a truce with any other underground organization as well. Not only would this be fair to the people coming within the extortion net under cover of the ceasefire, but in the present scenario, also defuse some of the friction that a larger section of the people in Manipur have developed with the NSCN(IM), and to an extent with the community it represents.
For it cannot be denied that the brunt of this extortion is born by Manipur trucks on NH-39 on merchandises meant for Manipur, and hence all the burden ultimately end up being shifted to the consumers in the state. The Union government has been allowing this to go on for much too long, and it is for reasons such as this that wild allegations that the Centre has been, as a policy, fishing in the troubled waters in the northeast, is sticking on an increasing number of minds.
It is true there are a number of other underground organizations, especially in Manipur, indulging in brutal extortions, killing people for not parting with their money etc, but these are still outlawed organizations, and their activities are to be monitored and checked by the law. That the law has not been succeeding in keeping their activities in total check is another matter, but the fact is, extortion here is illegal and legal penalties are still strong deterrents for both the extortionists and their so called “contributors”. In the case of the NSCN(IM), the ceasefire and the so called peace has blunted the law in all practical aspects, making it almost seem as if it is the law which is tacitly or openly endorsing the extortion activities. Why has the Union government not put two and two together yet to realize that such perceptions can do no good to the cause of comprehensive peace in the region in the long run.
It simply cannot allow the people to be fleeced under cover of what it calls peace, and then pretend incomprehension when there are violent protests against the manner the peace game is being played. We would even say such insensitivities, deliberate or otherwise, was a strong factor in the violent explosion of emotions in June 2001 in Manipur against the extension of the NSCN(IM) ceasefire without territorial limits. The anger, it may be recalled, was mainly directed against symbols of the Indian state, for it was this state, or those at the helm of it, who refused to see the inner infringements caused. In the case of Manipur, it is not just a case of resentment against extortion by any underground organization per se, but against a campaign that seeks its destruction, run on money extorted mainly from its own consumers – a case of “my money being used against my own core interest.”
Delimitation Trouble Source: IMPHAL FREE PRESS Posted: 2005-09-05
With the impending delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies countrywide, Manipur can expect another round of rancorous venom spitting. It is no consolation that Nagaland is faring no better, with various political parties already coming forward to appeal to the government of India to spare the state from this round of delimitation exercise, citing their apprehension of bitter public unrests. In Manipur the issue is a little more clear-cut, for the divisions are not so much on lines of tribes and villages and clans, but between reserved and open seats, or interpreted topographically, the hills and the valley. The point of discord is the 2001 population census in the state, which showed a surprising population explosion in the Senapati district at a rate that beats even the alarmist, and now disproven, Malthusian prediction that population expansions follow a geometric progression, destining food production to lag progressively far behind resulting in starvation nightmares. Effort to crosscheck the doubtful figure through another limited census exercise in the district was predictably disallowed by the population, as the issue had become entangled in the embittered hill-valley power equation by then. And so the state would be going into the delimitation process on the basis of this disputed population figure, thanks also to lazy and inefficient census enumerators who left so much unanswered questions. To be a little cynical, it also perhaps mean future human headcounts in Manipur in future would have to be done through aerial and satellite surveys as these cannot be upstaged by petty politics.
As articulated so consistently and insistently by some political parties, the consequence would be the valley losing three of its traditional constituencies because of the new population ratios. In the current situation when the fire of Manipur integrity and Naga integration are still raging, this can mean additional dynamite. This is of course if good sense is not allowed to prevail. We are with those who believes that if good, intelligent, senses prevail, harvests can be reaped from even extremely bad situations. As for instance, the opposition to a delimitation exercise as per the 2001 census can mellow down. Let the issue be more academic than political so that the clarification to the doubts become essentially a concern that future academic projections and policy guidelines can go asunder. As much as inflated population can multiply benefits, it can also multiply problems. We are not presuming that the 2001 population figures, although surprising, are wrong but that the doubts needs to be put to rest at some point or the other, perhaps during the next census. In the meantime the realignment of constituencies must be allowed to take place, and if the valley has to give up the three constituencies now, so be it but with the condition that these new constituencies remain unreserved.
This will for one thing ensure nobody loses their right to franchise or right to contest in elections. The state already has a huge problem of disenfranchisement of a section of the population in the Thoubal district. In fact we feel there ought not to be any apprehension even if all the constituencies in Manipur were to be unreserved, for ethnic affinities being what it is, to fear a Meitei can win the Tipaimukh, Tadubi or Chinghai Assembly constituencies in the foreseeable future, would amount to nothing short of a phobia. Beyond the foreseeable future, perhaps it would be in the rightness of things for everybody to be looking forward to more meaningful and democratic relationships. A speaker at one of the many open discussions that Imphal gets to see so frequently these days was making a very interesting suggestion of ending the practice of demarcating ethnic districts and opting instead for administrative districts. Given the current situation of hostile ethnic divides, this may be asking for too much just as yet. But the idea is worth a thought at least for the longer term state policies. Given a political vision focused on common good, who knows the delimitation process can set the ball of un-ethnicising political territories rolling. At such a time maybe issues such as a Sadar Hills district would also face no hurdles.
Ramu Mech’s brother salutes legal system ULFA sees Handique death as a preplanned murder NET News Network
Guwahati, Sep 4:Terming the deportation of ailing senior ULFA leader Ramu Mech to AIIMS for eye treatment as a victory of law, elder brother Puling Konwar expressed that at last they have got their legal due and if any one deserve credit for this then it is the legal system. Konwar speaking to a section of media persons said, “If situation demands then Ramu should be taken to abroad for treatment and if required we will generate money through public donation”.
It can be mentioned that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday while briefing the media announced the decision but Justice R.B Mishra of Gauhati High Court (GHC) had already ordered the treatment of Mech in AIIMS on its verdict on Sep 2 last after taking into consideration all the medical reports of Mech. The ruling of GHC came after CJM court repeatedly upheld the need of immediate special treatment to the ULFA leader. In the meantime, the 5 members medical board constituted to monitor the health developments by the Government of Assam under the subjugation of Superintendent of Guwahati Medical College Hospital notified about the seriousness of Mech’s health.
“It is unfortunate that even after 17 rulings by various courts, seriousness of Ramu’s deteriorating health condition was neglected by the authorities”, said Nakibul Zaman, lawyer of ULFA cadre. Ramu Mech as per the sources is likely to be taken to AIIMS, New Delhi by tomorrow’s Air Deccan flight scheduled to leave at 2:10 in the afternoon. It can be mentioned that Mech, suffering from loss of vision, was arrested in May 2002 from Aditya Nursing Home, Sivsagar and different courts have repeatedly ordered urgent treatment for 17 times but he could be treated only thrice due to lack of escort facilities from the police. Meanwhile, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) on Sunday again reiterated Robin Handique’s death as a “ Pre planned murder”. Launching attack on DIG (prison) for his remark that Handique was provided with all medical care, the outfit through e-mail expressed surprise at the government move to keep Handique at army’s 4 Corps in Tezpur and sending Bhim Buragohain to Guw ahati jail.
“ An ailing Handique was forced to travel across Assam in the back of a truck speaks about government’s sincerity about his health,” pointed out the mail.