Friday, November 12, 2010

Kishen and other terrorists update, and BIMSTEC meet

1) First, on Kishen: Linky

The poster signed by an unknown entity calling itself Tribal Platoon says "We will not allow the misuse of Shaheed Kishenji for selfish gains." What has triggered the debate is the use of the term shaheed before Kishenji's name which suggests that he is dead.

More from HT Linky

Kishen, the elusive Maoist leader, might have been injured in a 12-hour-long gunbattle between the rebels and the security forces near Lalgarh, around 160 Km southwest of Kolkata. Kishenji, the elusive Maoist leader, might have been injured in a 12-hour-long gunbattle between the rebels and the security forces near Lalgarh, around 160 Km southwest of Kolkata.

A senior police official of West Midnapore, not willing to be quoted, informed that Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji, was likely to be seriously injured in the exchange of fire that took place at the Hatishol forest close to Lakhanpur village, around 8 Km east of Lalgarh, since 6 am on Thursday. "Our ground level sources at Lakhanpur have informed us that around 15 Maoists have died in the battle. While a section of informers said Kishen suffered a bullet injury to his leg, another group said he might be dead. We can't be sure till we find the bodies," the officer said.
The gunbattle started after the security forces were tipped off that a group of PLGA guerrillas and Maoist leaders had convened at the Hatishol forest, adjacent to Lakhanpur. "The security forces reached the spot around 6 am and the gun battle started. It went on for nearly 12 hours," the senior cop said. Lakhanpur, where the gunbattle took place on Thursday, was the place where Kishen was reportedly cornered on October 22, when the rebel leader was to release Atindranath Dutta, the abducted Officer-in-Charge of Sankrail police station. It was at the same Hatishol forest where he met with media persons and formally released Dutta the same day.

IE adds: Linky

Terming Mansaram alias Bikas, a second rank Maoist leader active in Lalgarh, as traitor, another poster announces reads that he has forgotten his own community and people will punish him, said a police officer. The third stated, “We will not tolerate if Marshall is insulted”. Manoj Verma, SP, West Midnapore said: “It does not appear to be reliable, but we are verifying the matter.” Marshall was a senior Maoist leader and a close associate of Kishen. But following a tiff between the two, he formed his own group. On March 26, after an encounter at Hatiloth forest, police had claimed that Kishen was either seriously injured or dead.

Asian Age adds some caution: Linky

It maybe recalled that Kishen had received serious injuries to his legs in April during an encounter with the joint security forces in Hatilot forest. Intelligence agencies, however, suspect that the Maoists are trying to mislead the police and the government in their desperate attempt to stop the joint operations in Jangalmahal by describing Kishen as “Shaheed”.

The police also holds the same view. Inspector-general (western zone) Zulfiquar Hasan said, “We do not believe in the Maoists’ latest reference to Kishen as Shaheed.” Superintendent of police (West Midnapore) Manoj Kumar Verma said, “We do not have any authentic information about his death since April. At the same time, the audio and video CDs in which he gave statements also do not prove whether he is alive. They might not be genuine.”

2) Seems like some progress has been made on the NDFB anti-talks faction with two folks (involved in the slaying of 24 people last week) arrested in Kokrajhar.
3) UNLF into microfinance as the govt watches?: Linky

In order to woo back local support, North East India's biggest militant outfit United National Liberation Front (UNLF) has been using microfinance schemes like women's cooperatives and has already covered 2500 beneficiaries in Manipur and Assam. Though unreported, this has been going on for the last four years and has regained much of their eroded mass base by a unique grassroots experiment, called Phunga Marup, a microfinance scheme aimed at small entrepreneurs which threatens to render conventional counter insurgency operations futile.
"We applied with the Government earlier but never got any help so we gave up trying. Who will sponsor us," questions a Phunga Marup beneficiary. The failure of the government at every level has allowed militias to gain control.

On the BIMSTEC 2010 summit:
4) Opinions from the Bangladesh side: Linky

The Industry Minister of Bangladesh Dilip Barua has underscored the need for increasing cross-border trade between Bangladesh and North-East India. “North-East India is a focal point for trade and commerce for Bangladesh and therefore several Bangladeshi companies are planning to invest in the region,” Barua said on the sidelines of the ‘BIMSTEC 2010 Summit’ in Guwahati today. He, however, said that to carry this forward the existing infrastructure and connectivity should be improved. “We are also planning to include more items in the list of trade which have very good demand in the North East market. Moreover,Bangladesh has already allowed India to access its Chittagong Port that will further boost bilateral trade between the two countries,” he added.

Pitching for more expansive trade with North East India, the Industry Minister revealed that his government had already taken a number of steps to upgrade the road connectivity with the North East. “Infrastructure and connectivity are the key areas which need to be addressed immediately to get desired results in the field of trade. Bangladesh and India have signed pact on border haats which will be made operational within the six months,” Barua added. The current value of Indo-Bangladesh trade is $3 billion. The flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) from India to Bangladesh up to June 2010 was $ 494.69 million. The Indian government has sanctioned Rs 12.50 crore to improve the land customs points along the border.

Providing feedback on the bilateral trade, Barua said that leading Indian companies are keen on investing in the field of IT, apparel, pharmaceutical and infrastructure sectors inBangladesh which is a good sign as far as bilateral relation is concerned. The summit, organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is aimed at promoting tourism, trade and investment among the BIMSTEC countries. Earlier, participating in the summit, Suresh K Reddy, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, stressed on increasing cross-border trade among the BIMSTEC nations. He said that BIMSTEC countries should upgrade connectivity and infrastructure to boost trade. Later, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for sharing information about trade and economic development between India and Bangladesh.

5) Opinions from the Bhutanese side: Linky

Bhutan today said insurgency and frequent bandhs in the Northeast were hitting its trade relations with the region. Speaking at the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit here today, the consul-general of Bhutan in India, Dasho Tshering Wangda, said the large number of bandhs in the Northeast coupled with insurgency were affecting its trade. The summit was organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and attended by officials from the ministry of external affairs and member countries of BIMSTEC. “Insurgency and bandhs in the region have neither let local businesses prosper nor allowed businessmen from outside to indulge in trade here, with constant fear of extortion, abduction and intimidation,” Wangda said.

Apart from Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand constitute the other countries in the BIMSTEC sub-regional group. According to figures compiled by Bhutan, there are 111 bandh days in a year in the Northeast. “The BIMSTEC countries and the Northeast region aspire for economic development. Politicians, security personnel and citizens should resist and stop insurgency once and for all. If insurgency is stopped, it will not only bring peace and stability amongst the militancy-affected cross-border countries and the Northeast but will also help BIMSTEC countries come closer in the long run,” Wangda said.

He said the trade relations of BIMSTEC countries with India’s northeastern region were not as good as expected, considering the abundant resources and rich opportunities. On medical opportunities, Wangda said Bhutan alone spent Rs 7-8 crore in Calcutta for treatment of Bhutanese patients. “There are good opportunities for Dhaka and Guwahati to become medical tourism hubs, taking into account their skill, population, size and growth. They should seize this opportunity,” he said. On investment opportunities, Wangda said, “The Pran group is investing in the Northeast. The Tripura government has allotted an acre of land to the group at Bodhjung Nagar industrial zone in west Tripura to set up the proposed unit.”

6) From the Sri Lankan side:

The Indian Chamber of Commerce today signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka to develop trade relationship between the two countries with special reference to the north eastern region. Signing the MOU, Lal De Alwis President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce sterssed that the connection between his country and the NE region was very vital. The Sri Lankan official said tourism, fishery, agriculture, connectivity and networking were the key sectors in which the two countries could focus.

7) And finally Big IT moves more work, jobs to China Linky

Rising wages, attrition rates and increasing scarcity of employable labour are among the top reasons for this shift in the way Indian IT industry has been looking at China. A September report by Goldman Sachs says Infosys' revenues from China could top $200 million in three years, from $100 million today. TCS' China revenues are expected to reach $250 million from almost $100 million currently, the report added.

While bidding for global outsourcing contracts, Indian vendors are beginning to break up a project into pure application development and software testing components. Of these, "non customer-facing portions such as testing is increasingly going to China," says Amneet Singh, vice-president, global sourcing at consultant Everest Group. Some clients are also concerned about growing geo-political risks in India because of terrorist threats and delicate equations with neighbours such as Pakistan and China.

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