Monday, December 20, 2010

Opinion Piece and Terrorist groups update (December 20, 2010)

1) First some opinionating:

There are three post-Independence themes floating in Indian discourse, which I disagree with:

i) The insurgents are "OUR Boys", come what may. Estranged they may be, but we have to bring them to the main stream "softly" without hurting the prospects of peace. This can be seen in as different a setting as with the former Tamil Nadu CM, M.G. Ramachandran, talking to the Foreign Secretary with regards to LTTE or with the current Assam CM, Tarun Gogoi, talking to his supporters with regards to ULFA. For that matter, even the strange way with which the GoI/PMO handles Pakistan (an estranged cousin of India, so goes the plausible theoretical justification!) mirrors this sentiment. Indians love a bit of drama, both in life as well as discourse. And it should not be entirely surprising if we see yet another B/K/T/Gollywood hit on the dramatic happenstances around two estranged families/parties/villages. Where the Indian political discourse comes short on such a B/K/T/Gollywood drama is in the logical sequence that is often needed to win eternal peace, and many times that eternal peace can only be won by taking to completion the liquidation of one party to the dispute. In India, while democracy and recurring elections have brought endless hope to the teeming masses, it has also created a detriment by putting unavoidable short-term focus on ending disputes quickly. To borrow a cricketing cliche, the Indian political climate has forced the politicians to grab a draw without putting the efforts necessary to win a Test. The concomitant sobering effect is the pause on reactionary violence that is necessary to settle disputes.

ii) Yet another myth floating around is that certain regions of India share more cross-border affinities than affinities with other regions of India. This is certainly true as can be seen in the regional/vernacular discourse in Tamil Nadu/Sri Lanka, Punjab/Pakistan, West Bengal/Bangladesh, Sikkim/Bhutan, Gorkhaland/Nepal, Nagaland/Burma, and so on. While there is a certain logical argument to such cross-border affinities, the unmistakable reality is that post-Independence India and post-1947 non-Indian territories have evolved quite differently (and dramatically), and the situation on the ground is that different regions of India and their affiliated cross-border territories are in different stages of development/identity recognition/self-perception. For example, someone in Tamil Nadu might share the same language, food and/or culture with someone across the Palk Straits, but these affinities do not envelop political discourse or medium for distress-relief. Media for pressure release such as elections or the lack thereof, participation in national debate(s) of the economic/political/identity variety or its lack thereof, intra-party squabbles or lack thereof, etc., have also evolved differently. It can be (and is often) argued that sixty years is too short a time-period in human annals to erase these affinities, but such arguments fail to stand in the wake of exponentially (and needless to say, catastrophically) multiplying knowledge of self-perception and identity development, aided by even more exponentially growing advances in science and technology. The central point behind bringing this theme to the fore-front is that dispute settling (especially of the insurgent type) seems to take a local/regional perspective mirroring the mistaken belief of cross-border affinities rather than a national perspective of what such precedents could mean on an all-India scale, given the multitude of insurgencies/mutinies within India.

iii) The net effect of both the above themes is the logical conclusion that "Crime Pays, and Pays Really Well." While punishment cannot be a logical solution to any crime, even the deterring effect of a corresponding punishment for a certain crime has been mitigated by unofficial pardons/blanket amnesty schemes for the sake of overall peace. The victims of such crimes hardly ever get consulted in such blanket amnesties, championed by tall visionaries and regional behemoths. With India practicing democracy and taking immense pride in this aspect, it is certainly confusing as to why there is a complete anathema to debating such blanket amnesties in the form of a regional/local referendum. Referendums are not completely new to India either, Sylhet joined what was then East Pakistan based on the results of a referendum, while Junagadh's accession to India was confirmed via a referendum. A confusing belief that the Indian political class holds is that a popular vote in a General Elections gives them an overarching freedom to parley on behalf of the people on all subjects under the sky. While there may be a certain degree of freedom-vs-responsibility coloring to such an argument, new realities (especially of the insurgent variety) would be better handled with popular opinion rather than be left to the visions of visionaries, lest they be seen as an overindulgence, or worse capriciousness.

Some real news for a change:
2) On the topic of Crime Pays: From Linky
There has been a steady increase in kidnapping and extortion cases in Assam over the past few years despite government’s claim of improvement in the law and order situation. Even though most of the militant groups in the state have either entered into ceasefire agreement with the government or have expressed their willingness to hold peace talks, extortion and kidnapping for ransom continue to rise in the state. It is a matter of concern that not only the militant outfits but criminals and even educated youths are resorting to kidnappings and extortion to earn easy money.

The police source said most of the kidnappings and extortion in the state were being carried out by the cadres of the anti-talks faction of the NDFB. “There are also reports of cadres of the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN serving extortion notices in Dima Hasao district and some other places in the state. A section of the cadres of the militant groups of the state, which are currently in ceasefire with the government, are also found to be involved,” the source said.

Number of cases of extortion:
2005 433
2006 460
2007 574
2008 626
2009 645
Till June 2010 388

Number of cases of kidnapping:
2005 1698
2006 1818
2007 1893
2008 2219
2009 2719
Till June 2010 1599

More on NDFB: Linky

The NDFB, the Adivasi People’s Army and the Santhali Tiger Force were jointly involved in various cases of kidnapping and extortion recently in Sonitpur and other north bank districts.

Continuing on the same topic, Patricia Mukhim writes this: Linky

People need a little window to resist extortion. That window unfortunately has not been provided by those who are entrusted with securing peoples’ lives. Militants also scrupulously guard their space and would demolish that window of opportunity the moment it threatens to open up. Without the ability to extort, militants will die of asphyxiation. It is a simple law of supply and demand of a different kind.

Prof. Gulshan Sachdeva, an economist from Jawaharlal Nehru University who has studied the underground economy, said in 2002-03, the amount was a staggering Rs 3,500 crore. But Sachdeva admits that the figure is on the conservative side. The underground economy could be much bigger. According to the Planning Commission, about Rs 80,000 crore is poured into the region annually through various central schemes and principally for power sector investments, and if a good percentage of that money is siphoned off to militants, then we can well imagine the amount that goes to their kitty.

3) SATP reports this:

The Hindu reports that three Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants, including ‘general secretary’ Gregory A. Sangma alias Jerry, surrendered before the East Garo Hills Superintendent of Police (SP) Sylvester Nongtynger at the District headquarters town of Williamnagar on December 19, after they deserted the outfit.

Sentinel adds: Linky

Earlier, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had ruled out talks with the GNLA, but said the government would convince leaders of the outfit to surrender. Meanwhile, the surrendered GNLA general secretary claimed that more GNLA cadres would surrender citing differences in their ideology with their leaders – chairman Champion R Sangma and Sohan D Shira, the chief of GNLA’s military wing.

4) HNLC: linky

Ten years after they were declared unlawful organisations, the Centre has re-affirmed the need to carry on with the ban on the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) while its counterpart the Achik National Volunteer’s Council (ANVC), currently under ceasefire, is free of the tag. A senior police official said today the HNLC was banned again as there was no change of stand of the militant outfit as far as its demands were concerned. The Centre, following the violent activities of HNLC and ANVC, had declared them unlawful organisations on November 16.

5) Karbis and UPDS: Linky

The United People’s Democratic Solidarity, a Karbi outfit, has put dissolution of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) as a precondition for laying down arms and signing of a peace accord with the government. The general secretary of the UPDS, Saiding-Eh, said today the dissolution of the council was necessary for the formation of an interim body by their nominees to oversee a substantive reorganisation of the council as per the Sixth Schedule for greater autonomy to the Karbis. “We are ready to lay down arms, give up the arms struggle and join the social mainstream, provided the present KAAC is dissolved to make way for our nominees to form an interim body of the council to manage and supervise a substantive reorganisation of the KAAC within the framework of the Sixth Schedule,” he said.

6) Blockades in Manipur by Naga groups: Linky

The Manipur government is seriously working on reopening the historical Old Cachar Road to beat blockades along the state’s existing supply routes. The move comes as the state is still reeling under the impact of the five-month-long economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council on-and-off from April 11 till September 18 this year, disrupting the supply of essential commodities to Manipur. The Centre has accepted the state government’s proposal to revive the road as an alternative to the two existing supply lines of Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Jiribam highways whenever blockades are put up on these.

An official source said, “The Centre has agreed to provide Rs 84 crore to revive the road. The North Eastern Council has sought a detailed project report and the matter is with the state planning board.” The Old Cachar Road, also known as Tongjei Maril, was the only link Manipur had with the outside world during the turbulent era of the Meitei kings. It was only after the British entered Manipur that the Imphal-Dimapur highway and subsequently the New Cachar Road (Imphal-Jiribam highway) were opened.

The route is also associated with the history of fraternal feuds and treachery in the royal family. During British rule in Manipur, many English political agents had come to the state via this route. The last of the English to escape the palace rebellion in 1891 was Rose Grimwood, the wife of the then political agent who was killed during the rebellion. The road connects Imphal with Cachar district of Assam through Manipur’s Bishnupur and Tamenglong districts. The road was abandoned after the Imphal-Jiribam and Imphal-Dimapur routes were opened. The road is only 100km while the Imphal-Jiribam route is more than 220km. “The route is shorter and can be used as an alternative supply line whenever blockades stop supply along the two existing highways. We see less trouble along this route,” the official said.

7) India-BD border survey: Linky

Official sources today said that since December 10, the survey has been obstructed as Bangladeshi nationals, after being allegedly instigated by BDR personnel, have been blocking land record officials from both sides of the border from conducting the survey. “Survey in Muktapur and Pyrdiwah could not be carried out as Bangladeshi nationals, after they were instigated by BDR personnel, intruded into the areas under adverse possession,” the sources said.

8) PC's visit to Manipur: linky

Chidambaram assured delegates of Zomi Council, Kuki Inpi Manipur, Churachandpur District Students Union, Kuki Students Organisation, Zomi Students Federation and others at Khuga dam that the government had taken a decision regarding the lifting of protected area permit for foreigners visiting Manipur. “We have taken a decision on the permits. I will announce the decision once I get back to Delhi,” he said. Although Chidambaram did not give any hint about the nature of the decision, official circles here speculated that there could be some relaxation in the restrictions imposed through the system.
Although Chidambaram had made it very clear yesterday that there was no question of redrawing Manipur’s boundary, the Zomi Council and Zomi Students Federation demanded creation of an autonomous tribal state for the state’s tribal communities. He also met delegates from various groups, including Nagas, Kukis, senior citizens of Manipur and All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union at Raj Bhavan. While he gave a patient hearing to the grievances, he refused to take questions from the journalists.

More on the above: Linky

A signature campaign against the protected area permit system, which makes it mandatory for a visiting foreigner to obtain a permit before entering Manipur, was kicked off today. Among the signatories were two ministers of the Ibobi Singh government. Tourism minister T.N. Haokip and youth affairs and sports minister N. Biren Sing participated in the campaign launched by the Local Support Group in tandem with an online anti-permit signature campaign.

Under the existing system, foreigners have to obtain protected area permits to enter Manipur. This discourages them from visiting the state, leaving little hope for development of the state’s tourism sector. After signing the campaign, Haokip said, “It’s time for the system to go. Visa should be given on arrival. Manipur’s future lies in tourism. This system is killing the tourism sector in Manipur,” he said.

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At December 20, 2010 at 7:02 PM , Blogger Mar Dezie said...

That's quite a long rant. They are really racketeers not insurgents. But then the GOI seemed to like the status quo. What is the point in having something like 4 thousand crores investment for this year approved when they know some of it is to pay for kidnapping ransom demands why don't the GOI just pay protection money to begin with and skip the kidnapping.

Maybe governing the country might be too much of a stretch.

On other news apparently the GOI leaked but only to one small internet news media Alpha News never heard of them before but this story is then copied without checks that AF(SP)A will be reformed. Then people on the web respond in detail to the reforms, the removal of immunity from investigation when paramilitaries kill on suspicion, and the requirement to seek arrest warrants to prevent the unfortunate habit of picking up young women for questioning them and then doing an unorthodox form of cavity search.

If they ended AF(SP)A it would mean soldiers had to obey the law, then if they could get round the idea that everyone should obey the law. Me repeal AF(SP)A and lift PAP i'll come live in Manipur. All you have to do when a drug crazed racketeer demands money from you, is to say well you could do some gardening for which I pay 200 rupees a day I am a very generous employer. Leave your guns at home come back tomorrow. How hard can it be.

Maybe you are just talk mind. I am good to go.

At August 29, 2011 at 10:24 AM , Blogger Pax-Indica said...

The point of AFSPA has been responded to many times here. I would suggest and for starters.

Whether they are racketeers or insurgents or militants or our boys gone astray or terrorists, the very fact that they indulge in violence, arson and pillage to enforce their zeal/diktats make them terrorists in my eye. Terrorists are those who indulge in terror to enforce their fiats and they have no electoral legitimacy, but claim so many things on so many days.

As regards my rant, long or otherwise, you are welcome to your opinion.


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