Friday, July 16, 2010

Northeast (July 16, 2010) and Nagalim

1) Proliferation of terrorist groups Linky
Groups in SoO and ceasefire mode:
a) Assam:
DHD (Nunisa)
NDFB (Pro-talks)
DHD (Jewel Garlosa)
UPDS
KLNLF
b) Meghalaya:
ANVC
c) Nagaland:
NSCN (IM)
NSCN (K)
d) Manipur:
KNO
UPF (Confederation of Kuki groups)

PC rules out talks with new outfits --- Decision taken in light of mushrooming of splinter rebel groups

New Delhi, July 15: Union home minister P. Chidambaram has ruled out talks with any new splinter group of militant outfits in the Northeast. “It was decided that in the light of new splinter groups rising, there would be no more golden handshakes with militants. They can take benefits of the surrender policy for militants in the Northeast,” a senior home ministry official told The Telegraph today. Chidambaram is understood to have conveyed his decision at a meeting of top officials of the Union home ministry, police and Assam home department on July 9, a day after the anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) blew up tracks in Kokrajhar district. The ceasefire offer, however, is open to the anti-talks faction of the NDFB led by Ranjan Daimary, who was arrested recently, and Ulfa.

The decision not to open talks with any new splinter group was taken after consultations with former intelligence bureau chief P.C. Haldar. He is the Centre’s representative engaged in negotiations with pro-talks faction of the NDFB, the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD-Dilip Nunisa) and the DHD (Jewel Garlosa) in Assam and the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) in the Garo hills of Meghalaya. At present, 10 groups in the region are under suspension of operations or in ceasefire agreements with Delhi. However, every time the Centre negotiates with a group, other splinter groups crop up. In case of ceasefire agreements with militants, the latter expect financial help from New Delhi.

However, doubts persist whether Chidambaram’s decision will actually help resolve the Catch-22 situation. “Now that you have begun talks with the DHD (J), will there be talks with the Hill Tigers Force also?” asked an official. The HTF was raised soon after the government decided to negotiate with the DHD (J). “We need to pause and take a look at what has been the result of engagement with militants in the Northeast,” the official said. In no state except Mizoram, which has remained peaceful following the peace pact with Mizo National Front in 1986, has violence stopped. In Nagaland, a number of outfits continue to operate despite peace accords. In Assam, too, different leaders of Ulfa claim to be fit enough to hold talks. In Manipur, there are groups that have as many as half-a-dozen factions. Experts are not sure if the Bodo areas will remain peaceful even after the BTC is engaged in negotiations and seemingly brought into the mainstream.

Comment: The problem in the NE is that terrorism is a racket with extortion a means to an end. So when a group cries SoO, a subgroup, pushed by the loss of revenue, splits and forms a new outfit. Further, groups such as NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) extort by proxy and help in the formation of new groups for the purpose of solidarity in religion, solidarity in whine profile, etc. This menace is not going to be put down in a sensible way except by putting the fear of god in the eyes of terrorists. But in a place where politicians are hand in glove with extortionists, all in the name of tribal solidarity, for fear, out of compulsion because of the feeling of "our boys", etc., this is going to take years of imperfect democrazy.
2) Linky

India building infrastructure in NE to boost trade

AGARTALA, July 16 (IANS) - India is building new infrastructure and beefing up existing ones along the international border in the northeast to boost trade with neighbouring countries, officials said here Friday. The northeastern region comprising eight states shares over 5,000 km of international boundaries with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal. "Various departments and organisations of the commerce ministry have come forward to build international standard infrastructure along the border areas and provide various financial incentives and facilities to the northeast to enhance export and import with the neighbouring nations," said A.K. Mangotra, additional secretary in the Commerce Ministry.

Addressing a seminar on scope and opportunities of export from the northeast, he said the central government would also be building integrated checkposts (ICPs) at Akhaurah (Tripura), Dawki (Meghalaya) and Karimganj (Assam) - all along the border with Bangladesh. These ICPs will have dedicated passenger and cargo terminals with adequate customs and immigration facilities, weigh bridge, security and scanning equipment, health and quarantine facilities and banks under one roof. According to EXIM bank officials, four states - Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur - exported items of worth Rs 1,394 crore and imported materials valued at Rs 237 crore in the last fiscal (2009-10). These states mostly exported lime stones, tea and coal to Bangladesh and Myanmar, and imported cement, stone chips and Hilsa fish from Bangladesh.

"Indo-Bangla trade is tilted heavily in India's favour with a highly negative balance of trade for Bangladesh. However, providing transit and trans-shipment facilities, Bangladesh can help itself access and derive further economic advantages from a market that is estimated to be over $20 billion, which is more than double the trade deficit of Bangladesh with India," said Jitendra Chaudhury, commerce and industry minister of Tripura. As per the agreement signed during Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi early this year, India will construct a bridge over Feni river in southern Tripura to get access to the Chittagong port for carrying goods and heavy machineries for the land-locked region. The Bangladesh government has agreed to allow India to use the Chittagong port, about 75 km from Tripura's southern border town Sabroom. "The proposed bridge, to be build at a cost of little over Rs.13 crore, would be the trading lifeline for not only for the whole of northeast India, but also southeast Asian countries," said Mangotra. Chaudhury told the seminar, organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), that Tripura has engaged an international agency to formulate a perspective plan on promoting exports from the State.

3) Linky

Dipu Moni to visit Tripura to boost Indo-Bangla trade

Agartala, July 15: Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni will visit Tripura in September to boost cross-border trade and business with the eight northeastern States. “During Dipu Moni’s visit, strategies to further improve trade between Bangladesh and the Northeast and development of trade-related infrastructure along the border would be discussed,” Tripura commerce and industry minister Jitendra Chaudhury told IANS. A business delegation is expected to accompany Dipu Moni. It will be her first visit to the Northeast. Industrialists and traders in the region would also meet her and discuss further development of trade and investment in both sides.

The two countries last March signed a crucial agreement to allow Indian goods to be transshipped to Tripura through Bangladesh. Media reports said Bangladesh has also sought to know how India intends to use its northeastern Chittagong and southwestern Mongla ports under a landmark Dhaka-New Delhi agreement during Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina’s visit last January. Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan has meanwhile said his country will facilitate setting up of markets along the border with the country in the next two months. During her visit, Dipu Moni will inaugurate a commemorative edifice being built in southern Tripura in memory of Indian soldiers and Bangladeshi freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives during 1971 war.

4) Some important news not making the headlines anywhere else except satp:

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and the Naga National Council (NNC) have united "unconditionally" at Monyukshu town on July 15, according to Nagaland Post.

Thuingaleng Muivah's visit trying to unite the disparate Naga tribes under the NSCN-IM flag has fallen foul of the original torchbearers of the battlecry "Nagalim for Christ" -- the NNC under A.Z.Phizo. Recall that T. Muivah wanted to visit his native village of Somdal, which is in Manipur. The Ok. Ibobi Singh government refused to accede to this request because of the perennial insecurity that the notion of a unified Nagalim would do to the geographical boundaries of Manipur state. The hill districts of Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati have a substantial Naga population, albeit of different tribes, and they have been pitted against the Meitei majority in Manipur.

In any case, stretching back to the past, AZ Phizo and his NNC signed the Shillong Accord in the late 70s (I think), which resulted in some relative peace in Nagaland and a splinter group, which called itself NSCN. The NSCN heaped scorn on NNC for betraying the Nagas and AZ Phizo was their primary target. NSCN in turn split further into the Muivah-Chwu (IM) faction and Khaplang (K) factions. While the stated reason for this further split is ideological, the real reason lies in the fact that Tangkhul Nagas tended to dominate the erstwhile united NSCN, leaving other Naga tribes such as Angamis (of whom AZ Phizo was the main leader), Konyaks, Aos, Chakesangs, etc. The Konyaks, on the other hand, are spread all over Arunachal Pradesh and border districts of Burma. That is why the districts of Tirap, Changlang etc. in Arunachal are virtual NSCN (K) fiefdoms. That also explains why and how NSCN (K) can indulge in hit and run and extortion in Nagaland and elsewhere and escape. In any case, there is a third NSCN splinter group calling itself NSCN (U) -- U for Unification, which wants to unite the IM and K factions, under duress if necessary.

So with the NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K), both bargaining with GoI and PC Haldar & co., and flouting all SoO agreements, there is now a dearth for ideas. GoI is against budging on Nagalim that could not only alter the geography in the NE -- not just Manipur, but also Arunachal and Assam, but also provide further justifications for more armed insurrection. With Nagalim resulting in a no-movement vis-a-vis GoI, the magic idea for T. Muivah has been to unite the people over a Nagalim cause. Something like a Direct Action Day de javu. The issue is Nagalim is a sympathetic issue, cutting across divides. The DAN government is as much sympathetic to a united Nagalim as is the Church, the FNR (Forum for Naga Reconciliation) as well as some Naga tribes and civil society groups. The Konyaks, Chakesangs and a few other tribes are very suspicious of the IM move and they have nt warmed to the idea of Nagalim, primarily because it is an IM idea. Add to this the scorn heaped on AZ Phizo and an elephantine memory and the Angamis are on to the same bandwagon as the Konyaks. Thus the NNC and NSCN (K) union is like a frontal attack on the Tangkhul claim for Naga supremacy. Already NSCN (K) and (IM) are fighting each other over turf, over drug cartels, over sympathetic terrorist groups, over GoI attention, etc. This union will only make GoI's job even harder as we now have two near equal folks to bargain with. The GoI is in no hurry, Muivah, Chwu and Khaplang are 50+, and both IM and K have been in SoO mode for the past 10+ years, deeply undercutting their fighting capabilities. The problem for GoI is the State machinery is essentially non-existent on the ground and PC Haldar has too much on his plate.

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