Tuesday, February 08, 2005

INDIA: North East Insurgency Report 04-08FEB [15 News Clippings]


01. ANALYSIS: Power to a Few, Misery for the Rest
02. Rebels in India's Assam propose conditional talks
03. ULFA fires peace missive to PM, offers talks
04. Communal slur on Assam police recruitment, BJP calls shutdown:
05. ULFA calls for boycott of national games
06. Spoilsport tag on Ulfa
07. National Games in Assam despite ULFA boycott
08. Alert from Uttaranchal to Assam
09. Bhutan, Assam in anti-Maoist move
10. Arms come free with drugs in opium hub
11. NSCN-IM to begin talks on Thursday
12. NSCN (K) asks NSCN (IM) to shift from Hebron camp
13. Quit notice on NSCN-IM
14. NSCN (I-M) must achieve a lasting solution: Naga church leaders:
15. Student killed in Manipur bomb explosion



01. ANALYSIS: Power to a Few, Misery for the Rest

A separate state rarely answers the problems of a region. In fact, it does nothing more than whet a few people’s desire for power, writes Bhaskar Ghose

Whose welfare is it anyway?

“You know, it’s something we ought perhaps to encourage,” a colleague in the home ministry once told me, only half in jest, “this demand for separate states. Eventually we’ll have a large number of tiny, totally unviable states, whose chief ministers will be sitting, cap in hand, outside the home minister’s door, or outside the finance minister’s door, waiting for grants of some kind. It’ll be de facto president’s rule. Total peace and calm. Total control.” It seemed funny then, but the funny part’s beginning to wear thin now.

In the last few years we have had three new states: Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal. We have a commitment from the ruling United Progressive Alliance to the carving out of a new state of Telengana. And if we go back some decades, we have the dismemberment of Assam into five states — Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland and Assam. Then we had Sikkim made into a state, so small that it is about the size of the Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district, which itself is one of the tiniest subdivisions in the state of West Bengal.

We have had a demand for a separate Bodoland, which has manifested itself on occasion in bloody massacres of, inevitably, the rural poor — men, women and children. We have had the demand for a separate Gorkhaland, which occasioned, at its peak, endless bandhs and demonstrations, the burning down of some of the most beautiful buildings some over a hundred years old, privately owned or built by the forest and land revenue departments. Then, too, a number of people lost their lives.

And now we have a demand from the Dimasa people, who live in some districts of Assam and the Dimapur district of Nagaland, wanting a separate “administrative unit” to safeguard their political interests, culture, language and traditions. The leader of the People’s Supreme Council of Dimarji has had talks with an officer of the home ministry which they have said were “positive”.

The humorous, consciously clever remark of my former colleague appears less and less funny as the years go by. Do we really want to reduce the country to small states of this kind? What will these minute little states achieve? More prosperity for their people? Where will they get their revenues from? Do the leaders realize just how ridiculous their demands are, when they’re reduced to practical terms?

The only thing that one or two of the leaders will get is real enough: power, even though it is in a tiny area of the country. But to some, any kind of power will do, and is something they are willing to go to any lengths to get. Start “movements” that destroy the economy of a region, as the Gorkhaland agitation did, at its height, to the tourism industry and to the tea industry; starve the ordinary people by rasta roko agitations, which prevent essential food supplies from reaching them; and kill people who live in villages in the areas claimed to be this or that state and who do not belong to the community to which the agitators belong.

What they need to look at very closely is what a separate administrative identity will do to the quality of life of the people in that area. Will it help or will it make things more difficult? If a region is dependent on the hills near it for water, will it help the people if the region became two separate states and then began squabbling for water? We have to look at the never-ending quarrel over the Cauveri waters between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to realize what the answer is.

One wonders what the political and administrative discourse over the last few decades might have been if the initial demand made after independence for linguistic states had been resisted and the citizens of the country had learned to accept that the administrative units as they existed then would never ever change. Would it have resulted in an extinction of the people of Karnataka or Andhra , or the disappearance of Malayalam? Would the Mizo or Khasi communities really have been wiped out, or reduced to abject poverty if they had not become separate states? The answer is not very easy to find. Politically, yes, there are new breeds of ministers and aspirants to political power. But would anything else have been different?

It may well be that an inevitable result, or progression to a struggle for independence is the assertion of regional identities; and surely the answer to that would be to nurture those identities, and foster them in all their complexity. But does this require the formation of separate states? The two don’t seem to be linked in any way, except through the desire on the part of a few for power. Power-seekers will always, sadly, be with us; they are the ones who fight elections to the managing committees of local primary schools as fiercely as they fight a war. They’re afflicted with the disease, which is what the insatiable desire for power is. It will manifest itself in every aspect of social life.

But somewhere we have as a people to recognize this disease, and isolate it and the rhetoric of those afflicted by it, from our daily lives. If we had done that in those early years, if the first free government hadn’t given in to the demand for linguistic states, to the immolation of individuals or someone fasting to death, we may well have been today a country with fewer and more viable, powerful states which together would have meant a more viable and dynamic country, whose Central or federal government acted as a federal government should and not like a monarchy which it has the propensity to do.

That it can be done has been shown by the government of West Bengal and the Central government in the resolution to the Gorkhaland agitation. The fact that a formula has been worked out within the framework of the existing state has been an act of statesmanship, not just of the leaders in the state and at the Centre, but also by Subash Ghising and his aides.

Consider the fact that in Darjeeling they speak a different language, are ethnically different from the Bengalis, the fact that environmentally the area is quite different from the rest of the state, and, for good measure, that it is three times as large as the state of Sikkim, and you will realize the significance of what the resolution of the initial demand for statehood really is, how profound and how important. If this is possible, then resolving the other demands ought not to be quite as formidable. Primary to these exercises is, of course, giving the areas involved and the people, good governance — a government that is responsive, sympathetic, and above all that acts, and delivers.

That, more than anything else, is the best form of persuasion. But with it must come the firm decision to make it clear to the agitators that there will be no further carving out of states. This becomes difficult after the craven manner in which Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were agreed to, but there are new leaders now; one can only hope that they have a greater commitment to a viable integrated country than their predecessors.


02. Rebels in India's Assam propose conditional talks
By Biswajyoti Das

GUWAHATI, India, Feb 8 (Reuters) - A powerful rebel group in India's troubled northeast has offered to hold conditional peace talks with authorities to end more than a quarter-century of separatist conflict, a mediator said on Tuesday.

The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh setting out their terms for the talks, said Indira Goswami, a noted Assamese writer, who is acting as a mediator between the rebel group and New Delhi.

ULFA, fighting for a separate homeland for 26 million people in Assam state, had rejected in December Singh's offer to talk, saying it could not accept a pre-condition to give up violence.

Goswami said she had received a sealed envelope from the ULFA chairman through an emissary, which she will hand over to M.K. Narayanan, national security adviser to the prime minister.

"The ULFA wants to hold peace talks, provided the government of India puts the issue of sovereignty as the main agenda during the course of negotiation," Goswami said.

Intelligence officials in Guwahati, Assam's biggest city, said such conditions were not acceptable and any militant group wanting to talk should first give up violence and be willing to hold talks within the framework of the Indian constitution.

"This is the policy of the government and there would not be any compromise on the sovereignty of the country," said one senior intelligence official, who declined to be identified.

Last week, another major rebel group in neighbouring Manipur state offered to hold conditional talks with the government.

The United National Liberation Front demanded a withdrawal of Indian forces from Manipur, to be replaced with a United Nations peacekeeping force, and a referendum on the state's sovereignty, while promising to surrender weapons to the UN peacekeepers.

Indian security officials deployed to control the rebellion in Manipur have turned down the UNLF peace offer. Formed in 1964, the outlawed group has been battling for autonomy for nearly 2 million people in the mountainous state.


03. ULFA fires peace missive to PM, offers talks

GUWAHATI: An influential separatist group in Assam has sent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a formal offer of peace talks aimed at ending more than 26 years of insurgency in the region, a rebel mediator said on Tuesday.

An emissary of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), on late Monday, handed over the letter from the group's chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa to Assamese writer Indira Goswami, sought by the outfit to mediate for talks with New Delhi.

"I had received a sealed letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the ULFA chairman," Goswami said in Guwahati.

"The letter contains ULFA's terms and conditions for talks with New Delhi. The ULFA wants the core issue of sovereignty or independence to be discussed in the talks."

This is the first time the ULFA, a rebel group fighting for an independent Assamese homeland since 1979, has made a formal offer of talks with New Delhi by sending a signed letter to the prime minister.

The Assamese author, also known as Mamoni Raisom Goswami, said the letter was in response to an offer by India's National Security Advisor M K Narayanan last fortnight for holding talks with the ULFA in a neutral country.

"Narayanan told me to get a formal letter from the ULFA expressing their desire for talks with the government. I had conveyed the same to the ULFA and this letter has come in now," said Goswami, who teaches modern Indian languages at Delhi University.

The letter will be handed over to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Wednesday.

"I had a telephonic conversation with ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah and he said they want to hold talks with the government not in a third country but in Assam," she said.

"I do not know what is going to happen and how the prime minister responds to the letter. But I am hopeful and want this problem to be resolved," Goswami said.

"Agreeing to discuss the issue of sovereignty does not necessarily mean that New Delhi will have to grant independence or sovereignty."

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

The ULFA is blamed for a series of recent explosions in Assam, including two blasts at the central parade ground in Guwahati on Republic Day. According to intelligence officials, there could be about 3,000 ULFA fighters with the outfit, listed among one of the powerful rebel armies in the northeast.


04. Communal slur on Assam police recruitment, BJP calls shutdown:

Guwahati, Feb 8 : What was dubbed as a historic decision to open recruitment for government jobs in Assam has boomeranged with the Congress party-led state government now facing angry protests on charges of communal bias.

The Assam government late last year held interviews for recruiting some 5,500 youths into the police constabulary. The response was overwhelming with nearly 500,000 candidates vying for the posts.

Last week when the results were announced, Assam witnessed angry street protests across the state with the unsuccessful candidates and the opposition political parties joining the bandwagon. They alleged communal bias in recruitment.

"The recruitments were politically motivated and were done at the behest of Assam's Home Minister Rokibul Hussain. Some 40 percent of the selected candidates belong to a particular religious community," said senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rajen Gohain.

The BJP has called for a 12-hour shutdown in Assam Wednesday to protest the controversial recruitment policy.

Thousands of protestors blocked streets and burnt effigies of chief minister Tarun Gogoi and the home minister in various parts of the state last week.

"I saw my name in the list of successful candidates and the next day I found another list where my name was struck off," said an angry youth, protesting at the Congress headquarters in Guwahati.

The government denies the charges. "If anyone can prove the charges that a particular community has got the majority of the posts, I shall retire from politics," the home minister said.

The last recruitment for any government job in Assam was done during the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) regime in 1999.

The AGP had signed a memorandum of understanding with New Delhi not to undertake fresh recruitments to enable the fiscal situation to improve.

"The opposition parties are worried that we are opening recruitments and they will not have any issues to harp up on. So they are raising this bogey of anomalies in recruitments in the police constabulary," government spokesman and Panchayat Minister Ripun Borah said.


05. ULFA calls for boycott of national games

Guwahati, Feb 6: Targeting sports events for the first time, the banned ULFA has called for boycott of the National Games scheduled to be held in Assam in December this year.

ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa in an e-mail to local media here last night called for the boycott, in what he said, was in the interest of the state and the outfit's separatist demand.

This boycott was in line with the outfit's calls time to time for boycott of national events like the Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations, he said.

He, however, sought to assure the sportspersons from Assam by asking them to participate in local sports events and those held in the north-east as they did outside the region.

He also asked the local sports organisations to work towards encouraging the sports personalities for participating in the local events.


06. Spoilsport tag on Ulfa

Guwahati, Feb. 6: Sports personalities and organisations today thumbed down Ulfa’s call for a boycott of the 33rd National Games, to be held here later this year.

Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa had yesterday appealed to “our people to boycott any Indian national event that is held in Assam”. He said such events had “political implications that undermine Assam’s sovereignty”.

The statement shocked the sports fraternity, coming as it did from an outfit whose commander-in-chief, Paresh Barua, was a sportsperson.

Assam Olympic Association (AOA) secretary Mukut Medhi appealed to Ulfa to review its decision in the greater interest of sports in the state. “Manipur rebels, too, had called for a boycott before the 1998 National Games in Imphal. However, better sense prevailed and they turned around and supported the Games, even gunning down a government official for corruption during preparations for the event.”

The AOA functionary said Ulfa had perhaps been misinformed that the Games would be an “Indian government affair” like many such events. “It is neither the Union government nor the state government that is hosting the Games. It is the AOA, an autonomous body of the people of Assam, that is hosting the Games.”

The Ulfa commander-in-chief’s volleyball teammate of 1975, Benoy Medhi, urged the outfit to do a rethink. “It was not expected from an outfit headed by Paresh Barua, who had led the state volleyball team in the 1970s. Let us hope they review the decision,” the general secretary of the Guwahati Sports Association said.

The sports organiser put the onus of preventing a boycott on the government. “I hope the Tarun Gogoi government will not bow to such anti-Assam threats and take appropriate measures to ensure a safe and successful Games.”

The chief minister and his sports adviser, Robin Bordoloi, could not be contacted for their comments on the Ulfa’s diktat.

AOA senior vice-president Leela Gogoi said if Ulfa was interested in the development of Assam, it should not have issued such a diktat.

“They want our children to play but do not want to let infrastructure develop. Is there any logic to it?” he asked.


07. National Games in Assam despite ULFA boycott

A frontline separatist group in Assam Sunday called for a boycott of India's biggest sports extravaganza to be held in the state in December, but the authorities are going ahead.

"Like all national events celebrated by the Indian colonial power, we have decided to boycott the National Games to be hosted by Assam in December. Holding of such an event is nothing but furthering the political interests of the exploiters (New Delhi)," Arabinda Rajkhowa, chairman of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), said in a statement.

"We shall have to ensure that the boycott call is enforced and so we seek the support of the people of Assam to stop this event by any means." The ULFA is a rebel group fighting for an independent Assamese homeland in Assam since 1979.

India's sports ministry has agreed to allow Assam host the games. Some 5,000 sportsperson and officials from across India are expected to take part in the annual National Games to be held in Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"We are sure the people of Assam will rebuff and ignore the ULFA's call for boycotting the National Games. Hosting the event is a matter of pride for the state and the militants have no business to interfere in activities like games and sports," Assam's Home Commissioner B.K. Gohain told IANS.

"We will ensure that the games are held on schedule and there is no second opinion on that."

The Assam government has been setting up infrastructure for hosting the event, including the construction of a games village to accommodate participants.


08. Alert from Uttaranchal to Assam


NEW DELHI: In wake of the "fluid situation" in neighbouring Nepal, the government has mounted an unprecedented vigil on the entire Himalayan border — from Uttaranchal to Assam, and beyond — to ensure that the Maoists don’t infiltrate into Indian territory.

Sources in the government say care is being taken to see that there is no spillover of any action against the Maoists by the Gyanendra regime. India has to keep its own security in mind, and also ensure that Bhutan’s interests are not jeopardised by any illegal movement from Nepal, through Sikkim.

Nepal has a number of "Bhutanese Relief Camps" that shelter elements inimical to the Bhutanese government. Officials say there is also a threat of these elements using the Siliguri corridor to enter Bangladesh.

Additional deployment of Paramilitary Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB), the armed police and the PAC personnel in the border states is a step in this direction. A general alert has also been declared, according to reports received by the Union home ministry.

The western flank of the border in Uttaranchal is considered to be vulnerable because of the hilly terrain.

PAC personnel have been deployed on all the four bridges, at Dharchula, Baluakot, Jauljibi and Jhulaghaat, linking the Pithporagarh border district to Nepal. The Royal Bhutanese Army had launched a massive crackdown against Indian insurgents in its territory in December 2003 and the kingdom has kept strict vigil since then.

For the first time since the crackdown, officials of Bhutan and Assam held their first-ever official-level meeting in Guwahati on Friday and Saturday.

A report from Gangtok said security throughout Sikkim has been intensified, as the state shares a 110-km border with Nepal.

The increased vigil has started having an impact on commerce. Trucks loaded with essentials for Nepal have been stranded on the Indian side of Panitanki border. The number of vehicles coming in from Nepal has also come down.


09. Bhutan, Assam in anti-Maoist move

A delegation of senior police and administrative officials from the ministry of home affairs, Bhutan, wearing traditional Assamese japi at the border district co-ordination meeting between India and Bhutan in Guwahati on Friday. (PTI)

Guwahati, Feb. 4: After flushing out Northeast militants from its territory, Bhutan has joined hands with Assam to tackle the threat from the Maoist rebels of Nepal.

A Bhutanese delegation today attended a meeting convened in Guwahati to devise a strategy to thwart the Maoist rebels’ reported plans to foment trouble in Assam and the Himalayan kingdom.

A few days ago, Delhi had warned that rebels from Nepal might create disturbance in Assam.

The meeting in Guwahati was attended by Dasho Tsering Wangda, a joint secretary in the Bhutan home ministry, Assam chief secretary (in-charge) P.C. Sharma and senior police officials from both sides.

Sources said the officials also contemplated ways to prevent militants of the Ulfa and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) from returning to the jungles in the southern fringes of the Himalayan Kingdom. South Bhutan borders Assam and was once a haven for militants of the Northeast.

The proposals that were taken up for discussion include border fencing and joint patrolling.

“The issues that came up for discussion at today’s meeting include threats from Indian insurgent groups ousted from Bhutan and the need to adopt special security measures and periodically hold coordination meetings at various levels between Royal Bhutan Police and their counterparts in the Assam districts. The threats from anti-national elements based outside Bhutan and Maoist rebels from Nepal were discussed, too,” an official spokesperson said.

The militant groups ousted from Bhutan are said to be desperately searching for new hideouts and could tie up with the Maoist rebels of Nepal, which has the potential to be their new base because of its proximity to the Northeast and the presence of the ISI there.

“If that happens, it will enable the Maoists to enter the Northeast through Bhutan,” a senior official said.

Promising to continue offering safe passage and security escorts to Bhutanese civilian convoys, the Assam chief secretary told the visiting delegation that Dispur was committed to ensuring the security of residents of the Himalayan kingdom during their visits to the border towns of the state.

Wangda, who led the 17-member delegation, said later that the meeting was a step towards resolving problems jointly at the grassroots level without instructions from either Thimphu or Delhi.

He said joint meetings — agreed upon in the agreement between the Bhutan and Indian governments in September 2004 — must be held biennially or whenever necessary to solve any problem that affects both countries.

On the flushout of Northeast militants from Bhutan, Wangda said that was the time when the relationship between the Himalayan kingdom and India was put to test.

H.S. Brahma, the joint secretary of border management in the Union home ministry, stressed the need to evolve a district-level mechanism to solve any security- related problem in the event of an emergency and to build infrastructure, especially roads, along the Indo-Bhutan border.

He also suggested the appointment of nodal officers not below the rank of deputy commissioners and superintendents of police on both sides for information-gathering and sharing.



10. Arms come free with drugs in opium hub
Myanmarese peddlers infiltrate border villages of Nagaland with 9 mm pistols as freebies


Moya, Feb. 7: Marketing-savvy narcotics dealers active along the Indo-Myanmar border in Nagaland have come up with their own version of the ever-enticing freebie — with every kg of opium, they are giving away a 9 mm pistol at no extra cost.

One of the hubs for such clandestine drug deals is Moya village of Kiphire district, where a state government power project lies in disuse. Myanmarese nationals come to the village, which is less than 40 km from the international border, to barter wool, batteries and salt for tribal machetes, cheap Myanmarese rum and whiskey.

Drug dealers come regularly, too, and peddle kanni (opium) more openly than anyone can imagine. The arms that they offer for free are generally those smuggled in by Myanmarese drug barons from China and Thailand for their own use.

Though the barter system is bringing prosperity to the villages, Moya village council chairman S. Kiusumew expressed concern over the sale of drugs on the sly and the offer of arms as freebies. He blamed the government’s apathy towards the border villages for the growth of the narcotics trade.

A policeman, one of the few manning the rundown police outpost in the area, admitted to knowing about the offer of a free 9 mm pistol with a kg of opium. “It is to cover the risk which the buyer takes,” he said.

Sources said these buyers were not the actual consumers. From the village, the opium finds its way to other parts of the country via Dimapur. In December last year, Dimapur police found a kg of pure heroin while randomly checking vehicles. “The forensic report confirmed the heroin’s purity,” Dimapur superintendent of police Janardan Singh said.

Singh said the drugs were being smuggled into Nagaland from Myanmar through a well-organised network spanning all the border districts.

Kiusumew said the peddlers prefer the Mimi route as they speak the same dialect — Mokuri — as the people on the Indian side and, therefore, face fewer problems. Inter-marriages across the border also make the passage of drugs easier.

Mimi village is the last major habitation on the Indian side on way to the Myanmar border. The drug lords send their men to Mimi via Tepero in Myanmar with the contraband. It is then sent to the rest of the country.

Kiusumew said neglect by the state government, lack of education and opportunity for employment had made matters worse with the youth taking recourse to methods that bring in easy money.


11. NSCN-IM to begin talks on Thursday

New Delhi, Feb. 7: The NSCN (I-M) leadership is scheduled to begin its sustained dialogue with the Oscar Fernandez-led group of Union ministers for resolution of the Naga issue this Thursday.

The Naga group was earlier scheduled to begin talks tomorrow but a delay in getting an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had pushed back the schedule.

The NSCN (I-M) told interlocutors that they would like to start the dialogue as soon as possible, but only after meeting the Prime Minister.

A delegation of the NSCN (I-M) leaders, led by general secretary Th. Muivah had met home minister Shivraj Patil last week, who had assured the Naga leaders that a meeting with the Prime Minister could be arranged if they desired.

Muivah had declared after his meeting with Patil that the government had clarified during this meeting that unification of Naga-inhabitated areas was on the agenda of the substantive talks.

Muivah’s reference was to a remark attributed to the Union home minister that the government had turned down the demand of the Nagas to “live together”.

NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chishi Swu said he was greatly encouraged by the home minister’s statement that it was possible to reach a settlement that is honourable to both the Centre and the Nagas.

Muivah said, “We are not here to argue with Indians but we expect that the Indian leadership will not fail the Nagas”.

The Indian government has been apprehensive about the impact of the talks on the other northeastern states. The NSCN (I-M) has been trying to overcome this hurdle by opening channels of communication with communities living in areas adjoining Nagaland.


12. NSCN (K) asks NSCN (IM) to shift from Hebron camp
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 07: Categorically stating that camp Hebron, where the NSCN (IM) has opened its General Headquarters, is the ancestral land of the Zeliangrong people, the Chairman of the Zeliangrong Region of the NSCN (K), M Roganing has asked the NSCN (IM) group to shift their camp somewhere else.

Speaking to a group of media persons somewhere at Senapati district today, the Chairman charged the NSCN (IM) of penetrating into the lands of the Zeliangrong and forcibly occupying it.

Maintaining that Camp Hebron falls within Ntangki forest of Zeliangrong region, the Chairman said that the NSCN (IM) has destroyed a vast tract of virgin forest to set up their camp without consulting the land owners.

Naga customary law requires that the consent of the land owners should first be obtained before taking over the land by any organisation, said the Chairman and added that instead of seeking the consent of the land owners, the IM group declared a large portion of Ntangki forest as Naga National Park, as if the land belongs to them.

Declaring that the NSCN (K) will continue to fight for the people, land and property, the Chairman said that the NSCN (IM) should relinquish all interests "on our lands and leave us alone or else we shall not remain mute spectators.

The Camp Hebron, the Ghqs should be shifted immediately elsewhere".

Accusing the NSCN (IM) of short changing the Zeliangrong people, Roganing said that the IM group has been distorting the history of the Naga people and has totally ignored the contributions of Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu and a host of other Zeliangrong freedom fighters.

The IM group may come out with all sort of allegations like Rani Gaidinliu was honoured with a Padma Bhushan but the fact of the matter is that the Rani was honoured for fighting against the British, said the NSCN (K) leader and added that India bestowed her the Padma Bhushan because she fought against the British, just like the Indians did.

Citing examples, the outfit said that veteran Hindi film actor Dilip Kumar was honoured by Pakistan but that did not make him a Pakistani citizen.

The Chairman asserted that the Zeliangrong people do not care whether the IM group gives due recognition to the Zeliangrong patriots or not but maintained that history is history and nothing should be done to distort it.

Elaborating, the NSCN (K) leader said that the strong resistance put up by Haipou Jadonang in 1927 was recorded by the Britishers and left them unnerved and detailed how the then DC of Kohima, JP Mills reported the matter to Lord Robert Reid, the then Governor of Assam.

The Governor then passed on the information to the Viceroy of India and ultimately reached England.

It was after receiving this input that the Simon Commission visited the Naga hills in 1929, said Ragoning and questioned why such an epoch making event has been ignored by the IM group.

Even during the days of the NNC in 1950s and 1960s, the Zeliangrong region, better known as the 7th Province of Nagaland, fought for freedom and suffered all the perils of military operations, said the outfit.

Sounding a stern warning, Ragoning said that the NSCN (K) will defend the rights of the Naga people and the Zeliangrong Region will not tolerate any subjugation perpetrated by fellow Nagas.

On the current peace talk between the IM group and the Govt of India, Ragoning said that there is no transparency on the part of the IM group and the Govt of India.

"We have seen in the past how countries or Nations talked of political matters openly allowing the interested people to give their opinion and share their thoughts.

NSCN (IM) should not disgrace the Naga Nation by surrendering the question of sovereignty," added Ragoning.

Giving a brief history of the Zeliangrong people as well as the people of Chinese or Indo-Burman Tibeto groups, the Chairman said that these groups originated from China.

These ethnic groups, including the Naga people escaped to the present region from the Great Wall of China in 210 BC to escape the tyranny of Emperor Siuangti.

The Naga people passed through various places till they gathered at Makhel (Near Tadubi and Sajuba), said Ragoning and added that they dispersed to different directions from that place.

The Zeliangrong people migrated to Ramting Kabiu (Maram) and from there they settled at Makuilongdi (Chawang Phungning area), said the Chairman and added that Zeliangrong people then occupied a compact area of the present Peren district of Nagaland, Tamenglong district of Manipur, parts of North Cachar Hills in Assam and other places.

The Meiteis are closely affiliated to the Zeliangrong people and together they migrated to Maikuilongdi, he said.

Then they settled at Kabuiliu (now Koubru), believed to be the abode of God or place or worship, said the Chairman.

The Meiteis later settled at the valley areas of Manipur.

The Zeliangrong people, as descendants of a common ancestor cannot be separated by any outside influence, asserted Ragoning and cautioned the people to be on guard against any vested interest elements who may try to sow seeds of distrust and animosity.

The Chairman also reminded all that the Zeliangrong nomenclature was coined on February 15, 1947 at Keishamthong and asked all not to disfigure the nomenclature in any way.


13. Quit notice on NSCN-IM

Senapati, Feb. 7: The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) today asked its rival, the Isak-Muivah group, to vacate the land on which stands Camp Hebron, the general headquarters of the outfit.

Senior NSCN (K) functionary M. Ragoning accused the NSCN (I-M) of “forcibly” occupying land belonging to the Zeliangrong tribe to set up Camp Hebron at Manglamukh, near Dimapur.

“The NSCN (I-M) should relinquish all interest in our land and leave us alone. Camp Hebron can be set up where there is no master or landowner because the present site has its masters,” the regional chairman of the NSCN (K)’s Zeliangrong unit said during a news conference in Senapati district.

NSCN (I-M) leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah stayed at Camp Hebron while visiting Nagaland and held a series of “consultative meetings” there. The duo left for New Delhi a few days ago after ostensibly attaining a mandate from the community to go ahead with integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast.

Ragoning claimed the Isak-Muivah group had set up the “so-called Camp Hebron” to launch a joint offensive with the army against its rivals. He accused Delhi of helping the outfit set up the camp.

The NSCN (K) leader said the NSCN (I-M) destroyed vast stretches of virgin vegetation to set up the general headquarters without consulting the landowners. “The group also declared another large portion of the Ntangki forest as the Naga National Park.”

Charging the NSCN (I-M) with subjugating the Zeliangrong tribe Ragoning said the outfit had dishonoured freedom fighters like Rani Gaidinliu and Haipou Zadonang by not mentioning their names in its publications.


14. NSCN (I-M) must achieve a lasting solution: Naga church leaders:

Dimapur, Feb.7 : Leaders of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council have said that the rebel National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) must direct all their efforts towards achieving a lasting solution for peace in the insurgency-hit state and contribute more effectively towards socio-economic stability in other parts of the north east, to be accepted as a representative entity without qualms.

As an expression of its seriousness about this goal, the council has now set up a peace committee whose director, Reverend L.Kari Longchar, believes that the church can play a very effective role.

However, there are many in Nagaland who still feel that the church should be impartial, and focus on promoting reconciliation and healing, but simultaneously are encouraged by the fact that Naga leaders are talking with the Indian Government after years of stalemated indecision and distrust.

Reverend Longchar finds some hope in the way the peace process has moved so far. He thinks that a new realization based on the ground realities has dawned on the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (IM) leadership.

"We notice some change in the stand of the NSCN and the Government of India. In their previous talks, the Naga people and Government of India could not develop a common ground where we can stand and talk for future solution. But now I think they are more accommodative, more open to one another. So, we see some changes in the attitude of both the parties," Reverend Longchar said.

The peace committee set up by the church, he says is working to bring not only the NSCN (I-M), but all the underground outfits under one umbrella and stop the meaningless bloodshed. Longchar believes that only dialogue can bring about a permanent peace and solution in Nagaland.

"Though we are not directly involved in the ongoing political negotiations, we look it as a right step and in the right direction because winning through political negotiations.Political dialogue through peaceful means hardest of political problem can be solved not through confrontation," Longchar says.

It is this realization on the part of the central government and NSCN(IM) leadership that brought them face to face with each other in 2003 for the first time in almost four decades.Though not much headway could be made due to the rigid position of the Naga leaders that time,the fact that they agreed to come for talks again has raised the expectations of the Naga people manifold.

"Most people expect that at least some solution should come and it is our prayer and hope that the national workers as they are working so hard for a solution, not only one party but other groups will also join and this time we expect a better solution," Longchar adds.

It is now hoped that the interaction of the NSCN chairman Isak Chsi Swu and the General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah with the civil society of Nagaland will give them better perspective about the mood of the people. And this will help them to come to an amicable solution with the Indian Government to the over 50-year- old Naga issue.



15. Student killed in Manipur bomb explosion
Imphal, February 7

A student was killed when a bomb exploded at an interior area in Manipur's Ukhrul district, official sources said.

The student, Tayoching Hungyo, was killed by the splinters of the bomb which went off at a hilly roadside of Itham Khulet Chongdan Karak area in the district on Sunday, the sources said.

Police sources said the bomb must have been planted by some unknown militants in their attempt to attack security personnel.