10/16/2005: "Naga charming: Centre may invite north-east leadership to talks table"
16 Oktober 2005 Sunday
Naga charming: Centre may invite north-east leadership to talks table SWARAJ THAPA Posted online: Saturday, October 15, 2005 at 0000 hours IST
NEW DELHI, OCT 14: Seeking to gradually widen the ambit of discussions with the Nagas, government negotiators engaged in the peace process are planning to involve the political leadership of the north-eastern states. This follows a fresh proposal the NSCN (I-M) leadership has offered regarding Nagaland’s relationship with New Delhi during the second round of talks in Bangkok last week. The team of negotiators led by Union minister Oscar Fernandes is waiting for PM Manmohan Singh’s approval to begin parleys with the N-E leadership, especially in states bordering Nagaland, before they sit down with the NSCN brass for the third round of talks that are likely to be held in the third week of November.
Mr Fernandes, who heads the GoM entrusted with the responsibility to hold political level talks with the Naga leadership, is back from Bangkok where he held five sessions of discussions with them. He will be briefing the Prime Minister next week on the issue. There are already indications that the talks have ended on a positive note with both sides agreeing to a “step by step’’ approach to address the vexed Naga issue.
NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, who was accompanied by a 12- member team at Bangkok, is now preparing a non-official paper on the proposed relationship that Nagaland can have with the Centre. He will present the paper at the next round of talks. There have been indications that the Naga proposal moots a federal structure as the framework for Nagaland-Centre relationship.
It is on this issue that Mr Fernandes and his team want to secure the views of political leaders and groups of different northeastern states.
Mr Muivah, in fact, was eager to continue the discussions in the first week of November itself. However, government negotiators said this would be difficult given that the UPA leadership would be engaged with the Bihar assembly polls.
The NSCN has been seeking a ’Greater Nagaland’ through unification of Naga dominated areas in the northeast, a demand strongly opposed by Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Naga leadership, however, were somewhat skeptical about the utility of the ongoing cease-fire in Nagaland. This view was voiced in the context of the killing of three NSCN (IM) cadre including a “Colonel’’ by Meghalaya police. Raising it at the Bangkok meeting, the NSCN leadership demanded that their representatives be part of the team conducting an inquiry into the deaths.
BJP begins poll preparationSource: The Sangai Express
Imphal, October 15: With an eye on the next State Assembly election which is fast approaching, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Manipur Pradesh would be holding a mass Chintan Bheithak to be attended by party National leaders at Imphal on November 5 and 6.
BJP National vice president M Venkaih Naidu, National vice president (north east in charge) and MP from Madhya Pradesh TC Ghehlot, All India general secretary (organisation) Sanjay Joshi, MP from Arunachal Pradesh and National secretary (North East in-charge) Tapir Gaon, North East BJP Organisation in-charge V Satish, general secretary (organisation) and BJP Manipur-Nagaland co-ordinator Abhinash Koli would be among those who are expected to take part in the Chintan Bheithak, informed a reliable source.
Besides discussing the prevailing political development in Manipur, the congregation would assess to find out whether the local and district units of the party has been holding meetings regularly and carrying out the party work properly or not apart from discussing other important issues of the party, the source added.
Royal British Legion revisits war memories The Morung Express
Kohima, Oct 15 (MExN): Marking the 60th anniversary of the World War II, forty one members of the Royal British Legion came to pay their homage to those who laid down their lives in the war. A heartfelt remembrance ceremony was held Saturday, at the Kohima War Cemetery.
The remembrance service was marked by a parade from the 2nd Assam Rifles who also gave the Guard of Honor. A special hymn "Lord thou has been our refuge from one generation to another," was presented by the Choir of Minister’s Hill Baptist Church, Kohima.
The laying of wreaths was led by Brigadier John Farmer representing the Royal British Legion and Brigadier RL Sharma of the 2nd Assam Rifles after which Brigadier John Farmer shared his experiences. The memorial service was conducted by the officiating chaplain Reverend Dr Neiliezhu Usou.
On Sunday, a private visit will take place for the veterans for which the cemetery will be closed to the general public. Atuo Mezhür, Manager of the Naga War Cemetery informed that the visit would be an emotional one as they will be locating the graves of their loved ones to place their wreaths.
On Monday, they will be leaving the capital city for Imphal to attend a similar service to be held there on Wednesday.
It may be mentioned that the Royal British Legion based in UK regularly organize such war grave pilgrimages for war veterans, war widows and family members of the demised.
Hildra Martin Smith, who was a Lieutenant in the British Army during the Kohima Battle, now 84 years old, also came in a wheel chair.
TMPO threatens to 'take its own course of action'
DIMAPUR, Oct. 15: Tuensang Mon Public Organisation (TMPO) has threatened to "take its own course of action" after the government failed to meet two of its three demands in connection with the Sept. 15 shooting incident...
near Silonijan, Assam, in which a Naga person was killed and another seriously injured, when security personnel of a civil servant assaulted the passengers of a bus allegedly in a drunken state.
The TMPO in a memorandum to the state home minister had demanded immediate termination from service of ADC Mokokchung, Khalong and his bodyguards involved in the shooting incident, along with ex-gratia payment of Rs 20 lakh to the next of kin of the victim and a government job on "compassionate grounds" to a relative of the deceased. This, the organisation had demanded was to be done in addition to meting out "befitting punishment" to all those who were guilty, as per law.
However, according to TMPO, the government has so far conceded to only one demand by appointing the victim Peter Yimchunger's wife as a police constable. A press release issued by the TMPO said the alleged district administration officer "became a murderer when he issued firing orders to his bodyguards resulting in the killing of Peter Yimchunger and injuries to some other passengers they were travelling in to Tuensang". (Newsfile)
Fresh violence in Karbi Anglong village The Morung Express
DIPHU, OCT 15 (PTI): Fresh violence erupted in trouble-torn Karbi Anglong district today when 67 houses of both warring Dimasa and Karbi ethnic groups were torched in four villages, police said.
Over 100 people, some of them in battle fatigue and armed with guns, entered Dimasa village Longithapadaw opening fire and mowing down animals before setting the houses ablaze around 5 am, they said.
The attackers then went to next village Mazgaon and repeated the same violence and burnt down 14 houses. Eighteen more houses at adjacent hamlet Nasugrungdisa were also set affire.
Another group of people attacked Karbi village Longmili around 10.30 am and burnt down 10 houses there.
However there was no casualty in today’s offensive, police said, adding the four villages were almost abandoned.
The situation in the ethnic strife hit district was stated to be "tense" and the army, police and paramilitary forces were patrolling the affected and vulnerable areas.
No violence was reported on Thursday and yesterday even though it claimed 31 Karbi and rival Dimasa lives since September 26 last.
The clash between the two warring Karbi and Dimasa tribes began on September 26 when three Dimasa autorickshaw drivers were hacked to death by unidentified attackers at Tissom village.
The intensive retaliatory violence began from October two when five members of a Karbi family were hacked to death at Hemari Terang village, followed by killing of three more Karbis at upper Dikrong two days later.
NSCN-IM ultra killed
From Tage T Tara
ITANAGAR, Oct 15 – One suspected NSCN-IM militant was killed yesterday in an encounter with Assam Rifles operating in the insurgency infested districts in the North West of Jangkhrum village bordering Changlang and Tirap districts of the state.
According to official sources, security forces recovered assorted equipment and ammunition like 0.22 rifle, 25 live round bullets and one Chinese grenade from the slain militant. The body of the militant, yet to be identified, has been handed over to the OC, Changlang Police Station, along with the recovered ammunition and a case has been registered under section 121/307 (IPC) and R/W Section 10/13 UA (P) and 27 Arms Act, the sources added.
The area was brought under the Disturbed Area Act over the years back following repeated clashes between NSCN -IM and NSCN-K groups
A cry of hope to fight HIV/AIDS The Morung Express Sothing WA Shimray October 15
Ukhrul, (MExN): Even though Ukhrul has the highest positive rate in the state, the people are hopeful that one day the menace of HIV/AIDS would be conquered. This positive attitude was marked today when school children’s came together at Viewland Baptist Church to participate at the 3rd School Watch Club Annual Event 2005 organized by El Shaddai Resource Centre under the theme ‘Beyond Edge – Hope’.
The programme was organized to create awareness and instill the attitude of positivism among the younger generation especially the students. Competitions events viz. Karaoke, Just a Minute (JAM) besides various items was presented which was focused on eradication of the deadly disease.
The Treasury Officer, Mr.Ningam Chamroy, who is also the SDO i/c of Ukhrul, was the Chief Guest at the function. Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest lauded the initiative taken up by El Shaddai Resource Centre and appeals to the public to join hands with each other in the fight against the menace of HIV/AIDs in the District. The school students also openly declared their will to fight against the threat to save the future generations.
ULFA welcomes New Delhi's peace initiative By Indo Asian News Service
Guwahati, Oct 16 (IANS) The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Sunday welcomed New Delhi's gesture in agreeing to hold talks with the outfit's representatives aimed at ending decades of insurgency in Assam.
'We gratefully mention that the government of India took up the process sincerely and the freedom craving masses of Asom (Assam) presume a peaceful and dignified solution of the conflict on the negotiating table ignoring all adversaries,' the ULFA said in its monthly newsletter Freedom.
The proposed talks, aimed at ending close to three decades of insurgency, are to be held between the People's Consultative Group (PCG) and the government's peace negotiators Oct 25-26 in New Delhi.
The 11-member PCG comprises representatives drawn from Assamese civil society and chosen by the ULFA to begin preliminary discussions to work out the peace process leading to formal declaration of a ceasefire between the rebels and the Central government.
'The people of Asom (Assam) are desperately looking for a real political momentum of the process,' the ULFA, which has been fighting for an independent Assamese homeland since 1979, said in the statement.
The rebel group, however, said forces inimical to the peace process were trying to sabotage the efforts.
'A section is still busy to fabricate an antagonistic environment to continue military operation against ULFA and to sabotage the political process of resolution by mongering nefarious rumours,' the statement said.
New Delhi last fortnight called off an army operation against the ULFA following threats by the rebel leadership to pull out of the peace process.
The ULFA warned the Congress-led government at the centre against trying to take advantage of the proposed talks for political gains.
'The present endeavour may be a political night game to win the forthcoming assembly election by the ruling party,' the ULFA statement said. 'Ambiguity still prevails whether talks is a pre-poll issue or a way for resolution of the conflict.'
Foreign firms in Arunachal to hunt for oil By Syed Zarir Hussain, Indo-Asian News Service
Guwahati, Oct 15 (IANS) A consortium of French, Canadian and Indian firms is to begin exploration in Arunachal Pradesh for crude oil and natural gas.
An Indian petroleum ministry official said the central government awarded exploration rights at the 295-sq km onshore block in the northeast Indian state bordering China and Myanmar to a consortium of three companies.
This will be part of the global bidding process under the New Exploration Licensing Policy.
'The consortium includes Operator Geopetrol International Incorporate of France and Canoro Resources Ltd of Canada, which have 30 percent stake each, besides the National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) of India,' the official told IANS.
Canoro and Geopetrol, a subsidiary of the French Geofinance Group that operates in about 80 countries worldwide, have been jointly engaged in exploration work in the oil-rich northeastern part of India for the last decade.
The two companies are now part of the Kharshing oilfield in Arunachal Pradesh that they began exploring in 1995.
The official said the contract for the exploration was awarded for a seven-year period followed by a 20-year production term for any commercial discovery. A five-year extension is possible in the event of commercial viability.
'The consortium is expected to carry out 2-D and 3-D seismic surveys and at least seven wildcat drilling of up to 2,000 to 4,000 metres in the next three years,' the official said.
'No wells have been drilled on the block and there is limited seismic coverage over the area where the consortium has been assigned to carry out the difficult task.'
India produces about 30 million tonnes of crude annually, with the northeast accounting for a fifth of it.
NTPC is one of India's well-known power generators. This would be the company's first venture in the upstream oil and gas business.
The Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), a premier Indian oil exploration firm, has also come up with a whopping Rs.33 billion ($735 million) project to double its crude production in the northeast in the next three years.
ONGC currently produces 1.5 million tonnes of crude in Assam state.
'We have taken up a slew of strategies to increase production to about nine million tonnes annually by 2008 in the northeast,' said the petroleum ministry official.
An Australian firm is currently engaged by the state-owned exploration company Oil India Ltd (OIL) to have a thorough re-look at the existing oilfields and reservoirs to enhance production possibilities.
'The idea is to extract more oil from the aging wells using advanced technologies,' the official said.
Fresh violence in Karbi Anglong From Our Correspondent Assam Tribune
DONGKAMOKAM, Oct 15 – Dawn-to-dusk curfew was clamped in Diphu police station area following the orgy of violence in Karbi Anglong with miscreants torching 120 houses in Longnit and Bagmari areas in the wee hours and during the day today. The deputy commissioner of Karbi Anglong, G D Tripathy speaking over phone said that situation in the trouble-torn district is tense but under control. Army personnel are patrolling the vulnerable areas. The district administration is providing relief materials to the 20,000 violence-hit people living in 38 relief camps, he added.
President of AGP Brindaban Goswami rushed to the district today to take stock of the situation and he visited some relief camps. He appealed to both the communities to maintain peace.
‘Even after the visit of the Chief Minister of Assam, violence has not stopped, rather it has increased which proves that the government machinery is involved in the incidents’, Goswami said in a press conference today at the Circuit House in Diphu.
The general secretary of UPDS Horen Sing Bey talking to this correspondent said that the DHD camp at Dhansiri should be shifted for permanent solution of the problem and for permanent peace. He also appealed to the people of both the communities to maintain peace and harmony.
However, Dilip Nunisa chariman of DHD while appealing to both the communities to maintain peace and harmony, criticised the government and administration for failing to contain the violence. Apathy of the district administrationhas led to deterioration in the situation. A third force is also behind the incident, Nunisa added.
Nunisa further said if after the incident of September 26, in which three Dimasas were hacked to death, a peace committee had been constituted then the situation would not have worsened.
However, the SP of Karbi Anglong said that it was the handiwork of dacoits and dropped the matter which deteriorated the situation, Nunisa added.
A peace committee comprising political parties, NGOs, district administration and different ethnic communities is visiting the violence-hit villages and relief camps scattered in Diphu and its adjoining areas to ease the prevailing tension. Peace meetings and peace processions have been reported from different parts of the district.
ULFA treads carefully on forthcoming talks
NET News Network
Guwahati, Oct 15: The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) today expresses its gratefulness to central government for positive response to peace initiative and raised eyebrows at a “section of collaborators” trying to sabotage the initiative.
Reacting in the latest edition of “Freedom”, the outfit alleged, “ A section of collaborators are still busy to fabricate an antagonistic environment to continue military operation against ULFA and to sabotage the political process of resolution by mongering nefarious rumors”.
However, the proscribed group expressed gratefulness to,“ Govt. of India for taking up the process sincerely and declared temporary withdrawal of military operation against ULFA to create necessary congenial atmosphere”.
In a bid to avoid confrontation in the wake of forthcoming talks between PCG and PMO office, the outfit rued at rumours like " Mrinal Hazarika, commander of 28 Battalion entered Sivasagar from Dibru-Saikhowa with 18 others", " 52 boxes entered in Dihing-Patkai forest", " ULFA aims to attack BDOs (Block Development Officer) and Chairman of Gaon Panchayat (Village Government)", "ULFA allies communal organizations and plan to kill Monmohan Singh"- etc. The outfit felt that such comments are not only incompatible but may stand as impediment to the whole process.
Also resting apprehension about talks may be the pre-poll agenda, the outfit assured that present initiative is taken keeping in mind the freedom craving masses of Asom who “presume a peaceful and dignified solution of the conflict on the table of negotiation ignoring all adversaries”.
Ethnic discourses in the Northeast
— In search of an alternative paradigm —
By Sanatomba Kangujam
Contd from previous issue
The dominant Naga elites are propagating such ideas in their effort to carve out their exclusive spheres of influence through the instrumentation of armed organisations and civil societies. The intensity of their movement reached its zenith when the United Naga Council (UNC) serve quit notice to the Kuki villagers resulting in the bloody Naga-Kuki ethnic clash of 1992-94. Besides, the Senapati Declaration, a draft resolution of the Naga People’s Convention held in June 2001 demonstrated a firm determination of the Naga elites for any communal show down with the Meiteis.
Kuki ethnic resurgence: The background
There was a movement for the integration of the Kuki inhabited areas of Manipur into the Lushai Hills to form Greater Mizoram. It may be recalled that a violent secessionist movement for a sovereign Mizoram was launched by Laldenga as a reaction to the expansion of Assamese middle-class which culminated in the passing of the controversial Language Bill in 1960. The imposition of the Assamese language upon the hill tribes generated stiff resistance from the tribal elites who were already prepared to exercise their influence in their respective domain. The tribal resistance to the hegemonistic design of the Assamese elites found manifestation in the ethnic movements of the Naga Hills and the Lushai Hills demanding sovereign independent states which ultimately resulted in the creation of Nagaland and Mizoram.
The Mizo armed insurrection led by Laldenga finally came to an end after the signing of the Mizo Accord leading to the formation of Mizoram as a full-fledged State in 1987 within the Indian Union. However, the Kukis of Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Burma were left out from the purview of the political settlement for various reasons. One apparent factor was the clash of interests between the Mizo elites and the Kuki elites. Initially, Laldenga tried to enlist the support of the Kukis inhabiting the neighbouring areas on the card of Independent Greater Mizoram. But, later it turned out to be a mere political strategy to broaden his operational base. Then, the failure to materialise the dream of Greater Mizoram induced the dis-illusioned Kukis of both Myanmar and India to explore a strategy for ensuring their racial survival that gave birth to the philosophy of Zale’n gam or an independent Kuki Nation. Parallel with this development, another ethnic mobilisation in the form of Zo-reunification movement for a unified and independent Zogam of the Zo people has also emerged. The visualised Zale’n gam or Zogam consists of all the Kuki-Chin-Zomi ethnic groups scattering in the three countries of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Now-a-days, various ethnic armed-outfits have been proliferating within the Kuki-Chin-Zomi ethnic movements characterised by intra-ethnic group conflict demanding their autonomous or independent homeland. But the Kuki-Chin-Zomi ethnic groups conflict resulted in bloody factional feud. This can be ascribed to the uneven formation of the middle-class due to uneven responses to the process of modernisation in all its aspects rather than mere leadership crisis, electoral politics or external influences. The expansion of the spheres of influences by the Kuki elites came into clash with that of the Naga elites and the Meitei elites who also have been pursuing the same line of action. This resulted into the Naga-Kuki clash of the 1990s and armed confrontation between the Kuki and Meitei insurgent organisations from time to time.
The Kuki narratives: Quest for a homeland
The movement for Kuki homeland initiated by the Kuki elites with the objective to carve out their exclusive spheres of influence necessitated to contrive certain ideological strategies for justifying their action.
a) The Kuki nation had already existed even before the arrival of the British and they had exercised sovereign authority over their land.
b) The Kuki nation was arbitrarily divided and placed in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
c) The Kukis had fiercely resisted the British colonial expansion that resulted in the Kuki War of Independence of 1917-1919 and 1943-1945.
d) The Meitei nation-State had been already conquered by the British in 1891 while the Kukis were subjugated only after the Kuki rebellion.
e) The Kukis were never ruled over by the Meiteis. On the contrary, the Kukis had extended military assistance to the Meitei kings.
f) Zale’n gam has been co-existing side by side with Kangleipak without affecting each other’s sovereignty. Therefore, Kang-leipak does not have the right to claim any part of Zale’n gam.
g) The hill districts of Manipur are neither exclusively inhabited nor dominated by the Nagas.
h) That the categorisation of the so called old Kukis like the Chothes, Chirus and Anals etc. into the Naga fold defies all logics of history, culture, language and ethnicity as they are more related to the new Kukis such as the Thadous and the Vaipheis.
i) That the Nagas have perpetrated heinous atrocities against the Kukis in violation of Human Rights.
j) That the Meiteis have exploited the Kukis in various ways in the past and in the present.
k) That the creation of an autonomous independent homeland exclusively for the Kukis is a prerogative historical right of the Kuki ethnic community.
Today, we witness proliferation of armed outfits among the Kuki-Chin-Zomi groups resulting into the inter-ethnic group conflict with the Nagas and internecine warfare within-the groups while simultaneously posing serious challenge to the unity and integrity of Manipur. Because, movement for Zale’n gam or Zogam or their ethnic philosophies have ideologically as well as geo-politically challenged the raison d’ etre of the historical existence of Manipur as a political entity in the same manner as the movement for Nagalim has done.
The Meitei narratives: Reconstructing a fragmented nationhood
The dominant elites of the Meiteis who had political edge over the tribal elites are today confronted with the dual challenges of Naga irredentism and Kuki resurgence. The newly emerged middle class elites of the Meiteis exercised monopoly in the power structure of the State resulting in the peripheralisation of the tribal elites from the Manipur mainstream. In fact, the development of ethnic insularity and political exclusivism among the tribals of the surrounding hills, which manifested in the Naga Integration Movement and Kuki demand for a homeland are reactions to the expansion of the Meitei elite groups in the spheres of administration, geo-politics, economy education, culture etc.
— to be contd
Fresh violence in KA, 100 houses torched
Pick up age-old brotherhood threads; Karbis, Dimasas urged
DIPHU/GUWAHATI, Oct 15: After a two-day lull, fresh violence erupted in the troubled Karbi Anglong district where miscreants burnt down over 100 abandoned houses in two Dimasa villages in Lungrat area, around 26 km from Diphu police station, rendering over 5,000 people homeless, sources said. There was no casualty in the incident which took place in the wee hours today. The affected people have been put up in relief camps. Meanwhile, 144(3) CrPC has been clamped in Diphu town covering a parameter of five kilometres.
According to sources, about 30 armed militants, accompanied by hundreds of villagers armed with sharp weapons, went on rampage and set afire the abandoned houses while the militants fired at random in the air. Blazing infernos were seen at Halfjan under Diphu police station and at a place within the vicinity of Diphu town till filing of this report. Till now as many as 41 relief camps have been set up in the district.
Hills and Barak Valley Commissioner Dr M Sashadhar Nath told this correspondent that the district administration had already identified the sensitive and the hypersensitive areas and deployed security personnel there.
Meanwhile, AGP president Brindabon Goswami, accompanied by senior party leaders, visited the hill district and briefed the press regarding the situation in the hill district. ASDC leader Holiram Terang was also present in the press briefing.
Goswami blamed it on the State Government for its failure to bring the situation under control. There are reports of acute shortage of food and medicine in the relief camps.
A peace mission, which was constituted on October 12 with Hills and Barak Valley Division Commissioner Dr S Nath as the chairman, has been visiting the relief camps and the affected areas. Dr Nath is accompanied by MLAs Bidya Sing Engleng, Rupon Sing Engti, Jagat Sing Engleng, KAAC CEM Khorsing Engti, KAAC EM Mongol Sing Engti, and others.
Meanwhile, the Greater Guwahati Dimasa Kachari Association, the Amri Karbi National Council, the Assam Plains Karbi Adarbar and the Greater Guwahati Karbi Students’ Association discussed the situation in Karbi Anglong in a meeting here today, and appealed to the Karbis and the Dimasas to strengthen their age-old bond of brotherhood. In a resolution, the meeting condemned the incidents in the hill district resulting in loss of life and property.
The meeting also urged the State Government to determine the causes leading to the violence, take steps to apprehend the culprits and rehabilitate the affected families.
All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya and president Sankar Prasad Roy, in a press release issued today, also condemned the violence in the hill district. The two AASU leaders appealed to the Karbis and Dimasas to exercise restraints