Monday, January 31, 2005

INDIA: North East Insurgency Report 29-31JAN [11 News Clippings]


01. India, New Delhi offers talks with ULFA abroad
02. 57 militants lay down arms in Assam
03. North-East CMs Conference to discuss security, other issues
04. Army poised for Guwahati debut
05. Opposition protests poor security in Assam
06. Probe exonerates SP
07. NSCN leaders in Delhi for next round of talks
08. NSCN leaders in Delhi to further talks
09. Congress, BJP delegates meet NSCN leaders
10. KNF rejects Muivah 'offer'
11. [PERSPECTIVE] Through developments, wean away militancy



01. India, New Delhi offers talks with ULFA abroad

Guwahati,New Delhi has offered to hold talks with the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) outside India to end more than 25 years of insurgency in the region, a rebel mediator Monday said.

"India's National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan made the offer during a meeting with me last week to hold talks with the ULFA somewhere in a third country," said Assamese writer Mamoni Goswami, who was sought by the outfit to mediate for talks with the Indian government.

"I had conveyed the government's fresh offer to the ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah. The ULFA leadership is going to deliberate on the offer and respond soon," he told journalists in Assam's main city of Guwahati.

The outlawed ULFA, fighting for an independent Assamese homeland, had earlier rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer for unconditional talks with the government. Singh made the offer for talks during his visit to Assam in November.

"I am still very confident and positive that something is going to happen soon," Goswami, who teaches modern Indian languages at Delhi University, said on the sidelines of a seminar on security here.

The ULFA is blamed for a series of explosions in Assam in the past week, including two blasts at the central parade ground in Guwahati on Republic Day.

"They (ULFA) are our own boys although they are now angry boys."

The ULFA was founded in 1979. According to intelligence officials, there are about 3,000 fighters in the group, one of the most powerful rebel armies in the northeast.



02. 57 militants lay down arms in Assam

Rangiya (Assam), Jan 31: Fifty-seven ultras, including 34 ULFA militants, today laid down arms at the headquarters of the 21 Mountain Division of the army here today.

The ULFA ultras led by Sachinandatara deposited 46 assorted ammunition to General Officer Four corps Lt Gen A S Jamwal at a simple function.

The militants in their speech voiced their desire to make Assam developed and ensure security of the people.

Jamwal in his speech emphasised that army and the security forces have a commitment towards the NE region for which it was always engaged in the overall development of the state and the region. (Agencies)



03. North-East CMs Conference to discuss security, other issues

Agartala, Jan 31 (UNI) The security situation in the North-East, modernisation of security forces and implementation of development projects would be the main subjects for discussion at the Conference of Chief Ministers of eight North-Eastern states to be held in Guwahati tomorrow.

The meeting, to be participated by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, would put more thrust on carrying on the dual approach of anti-insurgency measures and executing development schemes, official sources said.

While implementation of schemes for modernisation of state police forces would be a major subject for discussion, the other issues likely to come up would be raising of the Indian Reserve Battalion, fencing along the Indo-Bangla border, border area development programmes and security related expenditure reimbursement schemes.

The meeting would also review the progress of implementation of projects under non-lapsable central pool of resources, the sources said.



04. Army poised for Guwahati debut

Police personnel examine the second blast site.

Guwahati, Jan. 30: Jolted by the twin blasts at Judges Field here on Republic Day, the Tarun Gogoi government has decided — at least in principle — to bring the Assam capital under the purview of the unified command for counter-insurgency operations.

The unified command is a joint formation of the army, police and paramilitary forces. Only Jorhat and Guwahati are at present outside the ambit of the command structure. Day-to-day law and order problems, including those connected to insurgency, have been left to the police to handle. They are helped by the paramilitary forces, as and when required.

"The decision is as good as taken," an official source said of the possibility of the unified command being extended to Guwahati.

Home commissioner B.K. Gohain was, however, non-committal. He said the proposal was under "active examination" and Delhi would have to be consulted before taking a decision.

The proposal is likely to be taken up with Union home minister Shivraj Patil when he arrives here on Tuesday for a conclave to be attended by all the chief ministers of the Northeast. The chief of the eastern command, too, is expected to attend the meeting.

The source said if everything goes according to plan, the army could be out in Guwahati within a week or a fortnight at the most. The subject was discussed at a meeting of the council of ministers a day after the blasts.

"The ministers agreed that Guwahati could no longer be left outside the purview of the unified command given the string of blasts the city has witnessed in recent times," the source said.

He said Guwahati and Jorhat had so far been left out of the ambit of the unified command because insurgent activity in the two cities was not as intense when the structure was first put in place.

A senior Congress leader, however, said efforts to step up security in Guwahati could backfire on the ruling party if army excesses occur. "That could be detrimental to the party's interests when elections are only about a year away," he said.

In Agartala, Patil urged the Ulfa to come forward for talks. He told a news conference there this evening that the Centre believed the problem could not be solved by using force. The minister said the government was pursuing a two-pronged strategy. On one hand, measures would be taken to ensure that no violent activities occur while on the other, efforts would be made to draw the outfit to the negotiating table.



05. Opposition protests poor security in Assam

Hundreds of opposition activists in Assam took to the streets on Saturday demanding resignation of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who they say has been unable to control increasing violence in the insurgency-hit region.

The protest in Guwahati comes three days after suspected members of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) set off two bombs at a heavily guarded parade ground during Republic Day celebrations. Though no one was wounded in the blasts and officials went ahead with the ceremonies, protestors say the act laid bare the state's extremely poor law and order.

Police blamed the attacks on the outlawed rebel group, which had called for a boycott of Republic Day ceremonies in the oil- and tea-rich state in its campaign for an independent homeland.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has submitted a memorandum to the state governor demanding action against the chief minister.

"We seek the immediate dismissal of the Congress-led state government. The public also wants the government to go," said Brindaban Goswami, the AGP president.

In another incident on Wednesday, soldiers shot dead 10 people mistaking them for militants. Soldiers fired on a crowd of about 5,000 people after they attacked the troops with knives, sticks and stones in the village of Hajo on the outskirts of Guwahati.

Troops had gone to the Muslim-dominated village on the banks of the Brahmaputra River to hunt for the insurgents believed to be hiding there.



06. Probe exonerates SP

Guwahati, Jan. 29: The probe into the twin blasts in the Assam capital on Republic Day has exonerated city superintendent of police Hiren Chandra Nath, who in a knee-jerk reaction was held responsible for "security lapse" and shunted out of office the following day.

The probe by additional director-general of police (CID) Sankar Barua to find out whether there was any security lapse, has put the Tarun Gogoi government on a sticky wicket by giving a clean chit to Nath amid accusations of witch-hunt.

Along with Nath, the government also transferred Kamrup (metropolitan) deputy commissioner A.K. Absar Hazarika, holding the duo responsible for "serious security lapses."

The state government was accused of looking for scapegoats by several quarters for its stringent action on January 27, which came even before Barua submitted his report.

Though Barua in his report exonerated Nath and senior officers, he indicted officer in-charge of the Panbazar police station Holiram Bora. However, no action has been taken against him as yet.

"I'll place the report before the appropriate authority first," said home commissioner B.K. Gohain.

Three other junior police officials were also suspended yesterday.

Gohain said the report has stressed the need to increase the strength of city police.

While asserting that the blasts were a handiwork of the Ulfa, the report also recommended steps to ensure security in Judges Field.

It suggested a 24-hour vigil of the ground, permanent fencing by a brick wall, sufficient lighting, installation of close-circuit television and constructing a concrete floor of the drain which runs along the perimeter of the field.

The report was submitted late last night by Barua. He told The Telegraph today that last night's report was an "interim one" and he has sent another part to the government today.

"More addendum may follow," he said.

Sources said Barua was hurried into submitting the report as the chief minister had declared on Thursday that that it would be submitted by yesterday and he did not want to fail on his word on a matter which has already put him in a tight spot politically.

The probe also found that the bomb was planted after January 10, Gohain said.

A pipe bomb was recovered at Narengi area this evening. Two persons were picked up for interrogation.




07. NSCN leaders in Delhi for next round of talks

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 30: NSCN (I-M) leaders are in Delhi for the next round of talks with the Government to find a solution to the Nagaland problem. The talks will go on from February 3 to February 5.

Chairman of NSCN (I-M) Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah arrived here late last night. It is learnt that Swu is scheduled to leave India after the talks while Muivah is expected to go back to Nagaland to hold consultations with his people.

Talks will be opened by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil. He will introduce the three-member ministerial team representing the Centre to the Naga leaders. The ministerial team is assisted by National Security Advisor (NSA) M.K. Narayanan, Home Secretary D. Singh and Centre's interlocutor K. Padmanabhaiah. The Naga leadership is also likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the talks.

It is understood that in this round of talks the two sides — the Government and the NSCN (I-M) — will present their positions on key issue like sovereignty of Nagaland and integration of Naga inhabited areas.

Senior officials said though ''historic'' in nature, the talks are unlikely to achieve a major breakthrough. According to them the Goverment's strategy would be to first discuss issues where a compromise is possible and leave the difficult issues to the later stages of the talks. It is understood that the Government is not against considering issues that relate to special status for Nagaland, a special financial package and sovereignty of Nagaland within the Constitution of India.

On the other hand, Naga leaders will state their position on the substantive issues and are likely to use the two-day Naga People's Consultative meet at Camp Hebron as the backdrop to this. Government sources, however,indicated that the Naga leadership is unlikely to adopt a hardline approach. Officials argued that Naga leadership is aware of the ground realities, the possibilities and the desires of the people of Nagaland. ''Both sides are keen that talks succeed paving the way for solution to the longstanding problem,'' said a senior government official.

The Naga leaders have already consulted a cross-section of people back home to assess their views. It held a two-day Naga People's consultative meet on the on-going peace process at Camp Hebron, the headquarters of the NSCN(I-M).

The forces and NCSN (I-M) had reached a ceasefire accord in 1997 that has been holding since then.



08. NSCN leaders in Delhi to further talks
Source: The Sangai Express

New Delhi, January 30: Top NSCN (IM) leaders returned to Delhi after consultations with a cross-section of people in Nagaland for their next round of talks with the Centre's representatives for finding a solution to the vexed Naga political problem.

The NSCN (IM) delegation led by its chairman Issac Chisi Swu and general secretary Th.

Muivah arrived here late last night.

The schedule for the talks, in which the Centre would be represented by a group of Ministers led by Union Minister Oscar Fernandes, is likely to be made known tomorrow, official sources said.

The Naga leaders are in Delhi after more than a month of consultation with a large cross-section of people in Nagaland.

The senior NSCN (IM) leaders, who have been in India for over a month at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, were given what the leaders call a 'mandate' by a two-day Naga people's consultative meet on the on-going peace process at the organisation's headquarters 'Camp Hebron', off Dimapur recently.

The consultative meeting, attended by over 6,000 people representing Naga villages of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, in a declaration said the protracted conflict must be resolved by NSCN (I-M) and Government of India by peaceful means.

It also asserted that no solution can be found without bringing Naga-inhabited areas of the North-East under a single administrative set-up.

During their nearly seven-week stay in Nagaland, Swu and Muivah interacted with the cadres of the insurgent groups and spent Christmas with them.

The two Naga leaders, who had arrived here from Amsterdam in the last week of November, had met the Prime Minister, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and had held parleys with the Centre's representatives for the Naga peace process K Padmanabhaiah and top officials.

This is the second time that Swu and Muivah have come to India for taking the Naga peace process forward.

The duo had held peace parleys with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy L K Advani and top officials in January last year during their first visit to this country in over three decades.

The security forces and NSCN (IM) had reached a ceasefire accord in 1997 and this has been holding since then.

The accord will come up for review in July, this year.-P



09. Congress, BJP delegates meet NSCN leaders
Source: Manipur Mail

Kohima, January 30: Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) and the Nagaland unit of BJP have met NSCN(IM) leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah at camp Hebron recently.

Party sources said the Congress delegation was led by leader of the opposition I Imkong and other senior leaders, while the BJP delegation was led by state unit president MC Konyak.

Both the delegations met the NSCN(IM) leaders separately and discussed on the matters of the ongoing peace process between the centre and the NSCN(IM) on Thursday last.

Party sources said the discussions were cordial and they touched upon many aspects on the ongoing peace process.

The leaders of NSCN(IM) were scheduled to leave for New Delhi today for an another round of discussion on the Naga political problem to hammer out a solution on the issue.

Meanwhile, The Ao Senden (Hoho) in Dimapur has appealed to NSCN(IM) President Isak Chishi Swu to take action against the NSCN(IM) cadres allegedly involved in the attempt on the life of Dr Maongwati atDimapur on May 27 last year.

The Ao Senden, in a representation to the NSCN(IM) leader, urged him to look into the matter and issue suitable directions so that justice could be done.

The representatives said some persons arrested in the assassination attempt on Dr Maongwati had admitted their involvement and named some NSCN(IM) cadres involved in the crime.

The Ao Senden called upon the NSCN leader to stop such practices and allow the persons involved in the crime to face a trial.

The Ao Senden has agreed that the crime was the 'individual act of some persons from the NSCN for their personal gains' and urged upon the leader not to allow any individual to bring such unwarranted bad image to it, the representation added.



10. KNF rejects Muivah 'offer'

The Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL, Jan 29: The T Samuel led Kuki National Front has rejected the recent invitation extended by the NSCN(IM) leader to Kukis, Dimasas, Karbi, Hmars and Meiteis to live with the Nagas if they so wished, asserting that Kukis will not under any circumstances live together with the Nagas.

The group, in a statement issued to the media, recalled Kuki history, and accused the Manipur Nagas of acts of betrayal in the Anglo-Kuki War of 1917-19 that led to the occupation of Kuki territories by the British and now India.

The KNF further questioned why the NSCN(IM) had launched a genocidal war against the Kukis in 1995-96. Will the IM leaders seek apology for their wrong deeds and rehabilitate those Kukis killed in their genocidal war, the group asked.

Terming Muivah's statement as 'hush a baby cry', the KNF asserted that the NSCN(IM) may go their own way but should not interfere in the Kukis political struggle.

The KNF also strongly criticised the government of India for its lackadaisical dealings with those insurgents groups which are seeking statehood under the Indian constitution.



11.[PERSPECTIVE] Through developments--wean away militancy

Through developments---not by pulling out the developments---wean away militancy
Oken Jeet Sandham

Since India attained her independence in 1947, we hardly heard of pulling out developments or shifting Government institutions, industries, factories, etc. from one State to another just because some underground elements started interfering into its functioning. But we kept hearing that the Government used to reinforce its security
to protect the public properties---be it educational institutions or hospitals or markets, etc---whenever there was a militant threat.

The one central idea of evolving to give more funds for the developments like opening factories, industries, educational institutions, road communications and construction of new roads especially to the insurgency-infested northeastern region was to wean away insurgencies. Because lack of developmental activity in the northeastern region was one of the root causes of militancy.

There are two schools of thought came up sometimes in various seminars, symposia and public discussions about the importance of development and peace. There are arguments that without developments, there can be no peace, while somebody is firm that without peace, there can be no development. Actually both development and peace are interrelated and should go side by side. But in reality, development should be the central theme to earn for peace, which in turn will pave the way for any solution. Because you cannot organize peace when there is vacuum, which has to be filled up first for any next step to go. With this concept, the Government of India, State Governments in the region and various agencies started pumping funds and formulating different kind of strategies to develop the region.

Paradoxically, there is a reported move by the authorities of the North Eastern Council (NEC) to shift one of the oldest premier Regional Medical Colleges---popularly known as Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS)---from its present location, Imphal (capital of Manipur), to Shillong (capital of Meghalaya), on the ground that some underground elements started interfering into its functioning.

True, Manipur (one of the States of India bordering Myanmar) is one of the worst insurgency hit States in the northeastern region and the prevailing environment is not conducive at all for any kind of developmental activities. And the people of Manipur is going to pay a heavy price in future because of their children's missing of considerable amount of study period over the years due to frequent bandhs, strikes, agitations, etc.

It will not be far off to see the real outcome of what is happening today in Manipur.

But do we study how insurgency had happened in the region and why it continues till date? Do we really try to diagnose the syndrome of the region?

I don't mind the ignorance of the mandarins in Delhi but it is ridiculous if the officers of the NEC have become scatterbrained on the reality. They are supposed to fight and convince Delhi to sanction more funds, more medical colleges, engineering colleges, factories and industries because the NEC was formed with the sole idea of bridging
the economic imbalances between the north eastern region and the mainland India. Why not every State in the region has Medical college, more engineering colleges, etc. instead of trying to shift one from one State to another.

When the whole country and even the think tank of this country in collaboration with various personalities of the region tried to come up with certain policy and programs to find ways to bring the region more closer and solve its protracted insurgency problem, how could the NEC think to take such decision. Are we not giving chance to those elements tending to weaken the social and democratic fabric of the country. Let them disturb but it should be the policy of authorities to defeat them through continuous developments. In such a way, we can win over the hearts of the common men.

Undergrounds? interference in public functioning was not an exception to Manipur. We have seen this in many parts of the region. We have witnessed how ULFA had blasted many oil pipelines and even Bodo militants exploded passenger trains, bridges, etc. in Assam. Should we threaten to pull out train services and stop oil explorations in Assam just because militant organizations disturbed and caused harms?

One should be extremely careful while dealing, writing and talking about the northeastern region because it is too sensitive. It is multi-faceted problems and whoever assigned for the region should be thorough of the area.

At the same time, we should also remember that there are peoples who have been striving hard to bring some solutions, although it is the responsibility of those who are at the helms of affairs. It is also Constitutional obligation for those who are in power to protect the lives and properties of the publics. They cannot shirk their responsibilities---be it in any situation.

We should always fight for more medical colleges, universities, industries, factories, sports complexes, construction of new roads, for not only the State of Manipur but also all the northeastern States generally affected by insurgencies. But philosophy of shifting one medical College from Manipur to elsewhere in the region is not going to solve the problem of insurgency; rather it will be doing more harm than repairing to the crippled Manipur.