Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All hail Shri PC Haldar and Terrorist groups update (December 29, 2010)

1) Let me start with some up-beat news on the Karbis: Linky

New Delhi today agreed in principle with the Karbi militant outfit United People’s Democratic Solidarity’s (UPDS) demand for an “upgraded” Karbi Anglong territorial council with more powers. The demands of the outfit was discussed in detail today in New Delhi during a tri-partite meeting between the UPDS and central and state government representatives. Finally, the Centre and the state government agreed to the formation of an upgraded territorial council in Karbi Anglong with additional departments and powers.
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Mukrang told The Telegraph after the meeting that the proposed territorial council would entrust more powers and authority to the existing Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, which would bring the Karbi people a step closer to realising the dream of hemprek kanthim (self-rule). Their demands included a self-rule homeland, a special economic package for overall development of Karbi Anglong and a corridor connecting Bokajan and Hamren subdivisions of the hill district. Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council was formed in 1951 under the Sixth Schedule. In the initial phase, the council was entrusted with seven government departments. In 1995, the number of departments increased to 30 after signing of an MoU between the Union government and Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC).

Tribune adds: Linky

Assam is likely to see birth of a new political party soon as militant outfit United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) is planning to join the “political process” after the signing of the peace accord with the State and Central Governments. The state and central governments and the militant outfit have already approved the draft accord and the final accord will be signed after the draft is approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Wojeru Mukrang, joint secretary, political affairs, of the UPDS, said that the militant group would be disbanded after the formal signing of the peace accord. He said that the UPDS would then join the political process as “we would be able to ensure implementation of the accord only by joining the political process.” He said that theformal accord with the Central and State Governments is likely to be signed within January next year.

The UPDS was demanding either creation of a separate state or an autonomous state under the provisions of Article 244 (A) of the Constitution of India. But now the outfit has accepted the proposal of the Central and State Governments to upgrade the existing Autonomous Council with more legislative and financial powers. Mukrang said that earlier, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council did not have legislative powers and had to depend entirely on the Hill Areas Department of the State Government. But after the signing of the accord, the situation would change.

The UPDS leader said that after eight years of talks with the Government, the outfit finally accepted the proposals put forward by the Government to give more powers to the people of the hill district. However, he made it clear that the UPDS has not given up the demand for creation of a separate state or an autonomous state. He said that after joining the political process, the UPDS would raise the demand for a state in a democratic manner as there would be no clause in the accord to prevent the UPDS from doing so. Rehabilitation of the cadres would be one of the main issues before the leadership of the UPDS and the outfit would demand a special rehabilitation package from the Government.

Replying to a question on whether the KLNLF, another militant group from Karbi Anglong would accept the accord with the UPDS, Mukrang said that the UPDS is ready to talk with the KLNLF, which is already under cease-fire agreement with the Government. “The KLNLF does not want to recognize us and it is up to them to decide whether to accept the agreement between Government and UPDS.

Tribune adds more on the agreement: Linky

An achievement of sorts for the UPDS is that the State Government has agreed to hand over 65 departments to the proposed territorialcouncil. The haggling over the State government department was one of the reasons for the impasse. UPDS had sought 66 departments, including the home and Judiciary. Till yesterday, the State Government had agreed to hand over 64, but at the Thursday’s meeting, it agreed to hand over judiciary, leaving outHome Department.

More on the back-issues: Linky

In what could be the first success story for Centre’s interlocutor P C Haldar, signing of an accord with the UPDS is likely within the next couple of days, tentatively soon after the Christmas celebrations, as all the three parties have managed to narrow down their differences.
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On Tuesday, the three sides held a marathon session at a five star hotel here to iron out the differences. Those who attended the talks included Haldar, Joint Secretary (North-east) Shambhu Singh, while the State Government was represented by senior official K D Tripathi, Commissioner Jishnu Barua, Additional DG, Khagen Sarma.

2) The fall-out of the peace talks with UPDS on ANVC: LInky

The recent agreement between the Union Government and Karbi Anglong-based rebel outfit UPDS to form Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC) has come as a morale booster to proscribed Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC). The ANVC, which is presently in a ceasefire agreement with the Centre and the State, has climbed down over its demand for a separate State for the Garos and instead sought formation of Garo Autonomous Territorial Council in line with the Bodoland Territory Autonomous Districts (BTAD). Notwithstanding the outfit’s climbdown over its earlier demand, no headway could be made during the three rounds of dialogue held between the Centre’s interlocutor and the ANVC in the second part of this year.
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The A’chik National Volunteers Council, fighting for creation of Garoland Territorial Council in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region, entered into a tripartite ceasefire with the Central and the State Government on July 23, 2004.

3) ULFA: Linky

Ulfa leader Anup Chetia may be handed over to India by Dhaka in January, while top Paresh Barua aide Antu Chowdang, arrested in Bangladesh, may be deported soon. Fortunately, New Delhi wields leverage that can be used at least against Barua’s aides. “Chowdang has at least one case under Section 302 IPC (for homicide) and cases are pending under several sections of the Arms Act,” a source said. According to procedure, the home ministry will send necessary papers to Dhaka for the early deportation of Chowdang to India. Chetia is serving a sentence in a Dhaka jail. The proposal for his release was sent earlier this year and a reminder sent after interlocutor P.C. Haldar and Rajkhowa finalised the involvement of Chetia in the talks.
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There have been two recent developments that could provide impetus to the peace talks process between the Centre and Ulfa. One, Ulfa leaders led by Arabinda Rajkhowa have decided to hold a meeting of the top leaders after Chetia arrives and take positive decisions. Paresh Barua’s name has not figured in their list of leaders. Two, Barua’s adamant attitude took a severe beating with the arrest of Chowdang on December 16 in Bangladesh. Chowdang was the vital “right hand” to Barua, and took care of his supplies of arms and ammunition and struck deals on his behalf.

On Anup Chetia, Tribune adds: Linky

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the Government of Bangladesh has already agreed to hand over Chetia and the ULFA leader’s petition seeking asylum in Bangladesh has been rejected, paving the way for his deportation to India. Sources said that the Government of India is yet to decide on when the formalities for his deportation from India would be started. Sources revealed that there is no chance for Chetia to go into hiding now as he is under the “protective custody” of Bangladesh after completing his jail term. It may be mentioned here that the presence of Chetia inIndia would be vital for the peace process to start talks with the ULFA. On the other hand, ULFA commander in chief Paresh Barua, who has been adopting a hard line on the issue of talks with the Government, received another setback as the Bangladesh authorities have confirmed that the security forces of the country picked up hardcore militant Antu Chowdang along with Pranjit Saikia.

Meanwhile, Linky

Hounded by Bangladeshi security forces, Ulfa cadres are moving to Chittagong and the Myanmar border from the Bakakura areas of the neighbouring country. A senior BSF official today said there were reports of Bangladeshi security forces busting Ulfa hideouts after the arrest of Antu Chowdang, an aide of Paresh Barua, from Dhaka by the Rapid Action Battalion on December 16.

Tribune adds: Linky

RAB’s intelligence wing chief Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan, however, said the enhanced security clampdown, in line with the incumbent government’s tough policy against the presence ofIndia’s separatist elements in Bangladesh territory, nearly destroyed the ULFA network in north and northeastern frontiers, bordering Assam and Meghalaya.

And the pincer movement shall continue: Linky

India is likely to renew pressure on the military junta of Myanmar to mount a crackdown against ULFA and other rebel groups camping in the country, when the Home Secretaries of the two countries meet on Monday. The two-day 16th Home Secretary Level meeting between India and Myanmar gets under way here on December 27. Union Home Secretary GK Pillai would lead the Indian delegation, while the visiting Myanmari delegation is being led by Deputy Minister for Home Affairs U Phone Swi, official sources said. At the meeting, the Home Secretary is likely to express concern on activities of Indian insurgent groups operating along India-Myanmar border and request action against them.
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The Assam Rifles, which had been directed to check documents at the border, has proposed to raise 26 additional battalions to check the movement of militants and criminals through the porous Indo-Myanmar border, as its present strength of 46 battalions was considered ‘inadequate’. The Assam Rifles has 46 battalions, of which 15 are deployed along the 1,600-km Indo-Myanmar border.

4) NDFB: Was George Boro's arrest a back-channel diplomacy played out in the front-yard? Linky

Two top militants of the anti-talks faction of the NDFB have sent feelers for talks in the wake of Dispur’s intensified efforts to bring the rebel group to the negotiating table before the Assembly polls. The outfit’s vice-president, Rajen Goyari alias G. Rifikhang, and the commander of Boroland Army (the armed wing of NDFB) I.K. Songbijit, as well as some other senior members of the faction have sent feelers to the government for negotiation, a highly placed source said.
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“Even before his arrest, George was in touch with the government through some channels and was preparing the ground for holding peace talks,” the source said. “Rifikhang, George and Sonbijit took control of the anti-talks faction following the arrest of Ranjan Daimary in May this year. If they sit for talks, then it will be a very positive development,” he added. Daimary has reportedly told CBI officials during interrogation that he was interested in holding talks. “George is likely to discuss with Ranjan Daimary how to take the talks forward,” the source said. However, the anti-talks faction is unwilling to sit for talks with the pro-talks faction, headed by Dhiren Boro and Gobinda Basumatary, the source said. The NDFB had split into two after the serial blasts on October 30, 2008.
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According to him, the government has almost convinced the anti-talks faction to drop its demand for sovereignty and its leaders are likely to press for statehood during talks. “So far, we are moving in the right direction and if everything goes well, they will drop the demand for sovereignty and sit for talks on statehood,” the source said.

But the problem with a statehood demand is that the Bodos do NOT dominate any Hilly terrain/any district singly in Assam. So a statehood demand is going to meet fierce opposition, just like the formation of a Dima Hasao district met. Plus, the NDFB cannot stop below a statehood demand as there is a Bodo Autonomous Council already, so that type of a suggestion wont solve the issue either. I am wondering how the GoI will steer this issue without being stuck in no man's land. Elsewhere, Linky

NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary was today granted bail by the Court of Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Biswanath Chariali, in connection with the Biswanath Chariali case number 151/09 related to Bhimajuli carnage, in which 12 persons were killed. Daimary was represented by advocates Manas Sarania and Sarifuddin Ahmed. Of the 10 cases pending against the NDFB chief, the court till date has granted bail in two cases.

5) Bru repatriation: Linky

Talks between pro and anti-repatriation factions of the Brus, displaced from Mizoram, will start at Kanchanpur in Tripura on Wednesday. The outcome of the talks will decide the fate of the stalled repatriation process of the displaced community.
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The Brus fled from Mizoram in 1997 and in November 2009. After the failure of several rounds of talks as well as agreement with the Bru National Liberation Front and the Bru Liberation Front — the repatriation of the community — however, started on May 21 this year after a gap of 13 years when the Union home ministry intervened. The repatriation process that started in May was disrupted once again with the arrival of monsoon. Differences cropped up within the Bru leader- ship with the expulsion of Bru leader and president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum Elvis Chorkhy. The repatriation of Brus resumed on November 3. However, it was again stalled following the protests of the Forum demanding among others a written agreement for the repatriation and resettlement. The Tripura government had to deploy security forces to deal with the protests by the Forum. Chakma is visiting Kanchanpur tomorrow with the aim to start the repatriation of the Brus.

6) ATTF split: Linky

The militant All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) split vertically last month with the expulsion of its founder president Ranjit Debbarma, armed wing chief Chitta Debbarma and foreign secretary Rahul Debbarma. An e-mail sent to the media yesterday by the new ATTF president, Sachin Reang, who led the revolt against the top three leaders, stated that the three leaders were “charged with embezzlement of huge funds of the ATTF” during a meeting at Satcherri in Bangladesh on November 15. “But the three failed to provide any satisfactory answer. It was decided …to expel all three and hand over the mantle to Sachin who was designated the new president,” the message read.

7) A new Dimasa outfit: Linky

The Dimasa National Democratic Front, a newly raised militant outfit, was behind the abduction of two survey assistants and a cook of a seismic survey company in the Manja area under Maibong subdivision in Dima Hasao district, police said. Intelligence sources said the militant group, with strength of around 25 cadres, is led by a Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Gorlosa) deserter, Bihari Dimasa.

8) Beating blockades in Manipur: Linky

Manipur’s main supply line is National Highway 39 (Imphal-Dimapur highway). Ibobi Singh reopened the Imphal-Jiribam highway, also known as New Cachar road (NH53), after supply along NH39 was completely stopped during the blockade. To beat such blockades in the future, the Ibobi Singh government has decided to reopen the Old Cachar road that linked Imphal and Cachar through Jiribam. On top of this, to ensure enough fuel stocks, the government is pursuing a project for setting up a fuel storage facility at Malom on the outskirts of Imphal city that could store fuel for three months. He said this was a long-term plan and the new depot would be fed by rail after the Imphal-Tupul railway line was commissioned. The present depot at Chingmeirong has only about 15 days’ storage capacity. The railway project, on the other hand, is progressing smoothly, he said.

9) On the topic of blockades, here is some counter to NSCN(IM): Linky

Six major tribal groups in insurgency-hit Nagaland have now come together to demand carving out of a separate State. The demand for “Frontier Nagaland” was raised by Chang, Konyak, Sangtam, Khiamniungan, Yimchungru and Phom communities under the aegis Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO). The demand is considered to be a setback for the outfits like NSCN (IM), which is now engaged in peace negotiations with the government after leading a six-decade-long bloody insurgency movement.

The NSCN(IM)’s key demand is unification of all Naga-inhabited areas comprising entire Nagaland and some areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. An ENPO delegation recently met Home Minister P Chidambaram and Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai here and placed their demand for the separate State comprising Tuensang, Longleng, Kiphire and Mon districts as well as three subdivisions of two other districts. The region has about half ofNagaland’s population – 9 lakh – and geographical area.

10) India-BD border survey: Linky

The joint survey on the Indo-Bangladesh border, which has been stalled since December 10, is likely to resume in the first week of January. Since December 10, the joint survey along the Indo-Bangladesh border by officials from land records of both countries was stalled apparently because of interference from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR).
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So far, officials from both countries have completed the survey in Lobhacherra tea garden in Jaintia Hills, which is reportedly under adverse possession by Bangladesh. The sources also said the survey was yet to cover nine more areas under adverse possession, and these include Lyngkhat, Kurinala, Pyrdiwah, Tamabil, Amlympiang, Rongkon, Amki, Amjalong and Muktapur. The purpose of the joint survey was to know the actual ground position of the boundary dispute between the two countries, which has been continuing for decades. After the completion of the survey, maps and reports would be prepared and submitted to both India and Bangladesh for further perusal on the contentious issue.

But all that is moot when: Linky

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Bangladesh next year. The visit to Dhaka was confirmed by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s envoy and her Economic Affairs Adviser, Dr Moshiur Rahman here today. “The visit by the Indian Prime Minister is certain and two sides will work out details about the visit including when it takes place,” the Adviser told newsmen.

11) Discipline deficit in governance issues: Linky

There is no bandh in the horizon nor a strike or protest lined up, but offices in Nagaland have remained paralysed after Christmas. Every year, Nagaland comes to a standstill after Christmas and New Year. Not only do offices are closed throughout January, even traffic on the roads is thin.
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December is a festive month that begins with Hornbill Festival, which is regarded as the festival of festivals in Nagaland. This year, the state government also hosted the second North East Agri-Expo at Dimapur from December 15 to 19 where the entire state machinery was pressed into service. “The state government lacks the will to make employees attend their offices,” a senior state government officer told The Telegraph. He said when the state secretariat itself is deserted there is no hope for other offices to function, not to talk of offices in the districts.
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Kenny said Nagaland, which has the highest number of government employees in the country, has failed to deliver goods to the people. “They are simply siphoning off government’s money without doing anything,” he added, while pointing out that when government employees in the state capital are so irregular, what would be the condition in the district-level and sub-divisional offices.

12) On the topic of governance, a round-up of Meghalaya governance issues in 2010: Linky

Sangma took over after toppling political veteran DD Lapang on April 18, after infighting within the Congress party. This is the classic cloak and dagger politics that Meghalaya’s polity has witnessed for years.

Before Sangma took over as Chief Minister, the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) was a constant irritant, opening indiscriminate firing in the disputed Indo-Bangla border along Meghalaya from February. There has been little change in the skirmishes. The last being BDR’s disruption of the joint Indo-Bangla border survey from December 13.

In March, Meghalayans received a shocker upon realisation that some State legislators literally took them for a ride on a European junket on the tax-payers’ money, as unearthed by the CAG report. The legislators thereafter produced fake bills to claim travel expenses. Some things never change, do they? The budget was presented by Sangma as the then Finance Minister with a deficit of Rs 376 crore.

In March again, Meghalaya police learnt that one of its Deputy Superintendent of Police, Champion R Marak, actually deserted the force and floated a militant organisation – Garo National Liberation Army. The GNLA has been a constant headache for the security forces ever since with its extortions, intimidations and kidnappings. The banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) calling bandhs during Independence and Republic Day celebrations has remained unchanged.

Post April 20, if Sangma thought it would be fair winds, his political barometer failed to warn him about the impending storm. On May 14, four villagers were killed in an Assam police firing in Langpih – a disputed territory between Meghalaya and Assam. The territorial dispute is grafted as a nagging thorn in the relationship between Meghalaya and Assam for decades now.

And to speak of agitations, deficit school teachers in September went on strike demanding release of pending arrears. A month later, students from the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) demanded a tribal VC for the University instead of Prof AN Rai.

For a change, John R Marak, a sub-inspector was sent to ten years imprisonment for rape in February. The special CBI court also sent a former Central Excise Commissioner, LR Mithran, to jail for four years for accepting a bribe in October. Traditional bodies were ordered by the High Court to furnish information under the Right to Information Act, in August.

Three village women – Fatima Mynsong, Aquiline Songchan and Malinda Suting – busted a scam of the village headman and his henchmen in Jongsha village on the shoddy implementation of NREGA scheme by filing a Right to Information application. The Shillong Chamber Choir won the finals of reality TV show India’s Got Talent Khoj 2 in October. Whatever joy or tribulation 2010 has provided, everybody would hope that things would change for the better in 2011.

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