Monday, July 5, 2010

Understanding Assam and its players

xpost from brf with updates:

If I am not wrong, the major groups in today's Assam are the Assamese, the Bodos, the Karbis, the Dimasas and the Hmars, etc. [There are tons of other groups, small as well as large, with a "thirst" for autonomy and a blatant disregard for anything but subversion, but we will get to that later.]

0) ULFA -- left for later...

1) The BLT fought on behalf of the Bodos. With the formation of the BTAD (Bodo Territorial Area Districts) Autonomous Council, the BLT disbanded and the NDFB kept going on. With Op All Clear in Bhutan in 2003 and some smart ops from the Assam Rifles and the Delhi Police, much of the leadership as well as the cadre of the NDFB was neutralized. The remaining leadership, headed by Ranjan Daimary, and the cadre took sustenance in Bangladesh and Burma and kept waging the battle for Bodo "autonomy" notwithstanding the fact that BTAD was created expressly with this intent. This "anti-talks" faction of the NDFB is a serious issue needing neutralization.

There have been many recent developments. See my related post on Understanding NDFB at Linky.

2) The Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) which has now declared a unilateral ceasefire was the one leading the charge for Karbi "rights", who are domiciled in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam. The formal laying down of arms by the Karbi militant group was to take place before January 26, 2010, but it has now been put off till the second week of February due to lack of consensus between GoI and the group on the outfit’s strength (this is a bargaining chip, the more people laying down arms, the more "power" the militant group has in bargaining for money, representation, etc.). KLNLF is an offshoot of the United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) that joined the peace process in August 2001. UPDS signed a ceasefire pact in 2001 and its demands include a self-ruled homeland for the Karbis (Hemprek Hanthim), a special economic package for overall development of the region and a corridor connecting eastern and western part of the hill district.

3) The Dimasas are domiciled in the North Cachar Hills District of Assam. The Dimasa "rights" was spearheaded by the Dima Halam Daogah. Just like with the NDFB, DHD suffered a split with a faction led by Dilip Nunisa and 'commander-in-chief' Pranab Nunisa, and another faction led by its notorious "leader" Jewel Garlosa aka Joel Garlosa and 'commander-in-chief' Niranjan Hojai. The DHD (Nunisa) faction is on a ceasefire mode and bargaining with the PC Haldar led GoI initiative for a separate Dimaraji state whereas DHD (Jewel) has rechristened itself as the Black Widows group. While Jewel Garlosa is under arrest, his cadre led by Hojai still keep doing the hit-and-run and extortion. The Jadikhe Naisho Hoshom, the apex body of the Dimasas, has played a crucial role in impressing upon the DHD (Jewel) and DHD (Nunisa) factions to move towards a ceasefire. In general, the concept of a Dimaraji state envisages the amalgamation of the Dimasa-inhabited areas of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar Hills, Cachar and Nagaon districts in Assam and the Dhansiri tract in Nagaland (some even say they want Dimapur of Nagaland just as the NSCN wants a Nagalim) as a full-fledged separate state under the Indian Union. This statehood demand marks a departure from their earlier demand of an autonomous state under Section 244(A) of the Constitution for safeguarding and ensuring rapid development of Dimasa areas.

There have been many recent developments. See my related post on Dismantling DHD at Linky.

LK Nunisa -- General secretary of Jadikhe Naisho Hoshom (JNH)
D Naidang -- President of JNH

4) Hmar People's Convention - Democracy (HPC-D) is an offshoot of the Hmar People's Convention (HPC), which came into existence in 1986, as a political party spearheading a movement for self-government in the north and northeast of Mizoram. The Hmars, who according to the 1991 census, were 12,535 in number in Mizoram, were disappointed with the contents of the Mizo Peace Accord of 1986, which failed to address their demand of a 'Greater Mizoram' integrating all areas inhabited by Hmars in Mizoram, Assam and Manipur under a single administrative unit. Since April 1987, the HPC waged an armed struggle for autonomy, which touched extreme levels of violence towards 1991. More recently, the HPC-D calls for bilateral ceasefire has been snubbed by GoI and Govt of Assam. The outfit is extant over the Hmar inhabited areas of Churachandpur district in Manipur, and the Cachar (with base camps in the Bhuban hill range) and North Cachar Hills districts of Assam. Much of the Tipaimukh agitation on the Indian side is spearheaded by the HPC-D and HRA (Hmar Revolutionary Army), another terrorist group, with active prodding from Bangladesh and without.

5) The other major terrorist groups fighting for Muslim "rights" are the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA), the Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM), among many other groups. Reports have also indicated that the outfit has as its objective the waging of jehad against India, to eventually set up a 'greater independent Islamistan' for the Muslims of Assam. In this context, one has to note the rhetoric of J-e-I folks of Bangladesh such as Maulana Bhasani, the grand forefather of figures such as Motiur Rahman Nizami, Salahuddin Qader (Saka) Chowdhury, Golam Azam, Delwar Hossein Sayedee, etc., who would like to create a "Bangassam", a separate state in the NE by stripping India, east of the Siliguri corridor!

6) Among the other groups that come to mind are the All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA). The AANLA claims to be fighting to safeguard the tribal culture of the plantation workers whose ancestors were brought from northern India by British colonialists. The outfit demands Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the Adivasi community and rehabilitation of the displaced members of its community. Official sources, however, indicate that AANLA is not a well-organised group and it does not have well-thought out aims and objectives.

7) Since Assam is a 'big' state, there is much spillover from states around it. We saw the case of HPC-D with connections to Mizoram. Then there is the Manipur-based Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) and Nagaland-based NSCN, with its various factions. There is the Khasi outfit, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) with connections to Meghalaya that finds sustenance in districts bordering Meghalaya. Besides that, the North Bengal-based Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) as well as the Darjeeling-based Gorkhaland outfits also move back and forth between Assam, WB, Sikkim and beyond. And so on....

8) And on top of all this, there is the Bangladesh axis. Read it at leisure from Assam: The Bangla hand.

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