Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nepal as insurgent sanctuary

Following the recent arrest of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) chairman in Bihar, there is speculation in The Hindustan Times that northeast insurgents are using Nepal as a safe haven from the Indian Government in the face of increasingly cordial relations between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh to upgrade trade ties with northeast

Bangladesh announced plans to upgrade its presence in the northeast in a bid to increase trade earlier this month, as reported in The Assam Tribune and a number of other publications.

There have also been reports of an Indian Government announcement to improve road and rail links with Bangladesh to facilitate increased trade.  The new infrastructure will link Tripura with the Chittagong port.

Wikileaks: Indo-Burmese cooperation against insurgents

As with many of the United States cables being progressively published by Wikileaks, a cable released this week on India's relationship with Burma reinforces conclusions already drawn by interested onlookers rather than offering anything revelatory.  The cable, dated 2 November 2004, reports on a meeting with a senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) bureaucrat in the wake of visit to New Delhi by Burmese military junta leader Than Shwe.

It states that India does not believe insurgents on the Indo-Burmese border are receiving support from the Burmese government as that would not be in its "strategic interests" and moreover that Burma's military build up on that border is not directly in its own interests but is rather a symptom of the increased interdependence of Indian and Burmese interests in the region.  India's concerns about Chinese influence in Burma are also laid bare in the cable.

MPP condemns tripartite talks

The leader of the Manipur People's Party (MPP) this week called for the cessation of tripartite talks between the Government of India, government of Manipur and the United Naga Council which began earlier this month.  The MPP appears to be concerned about an increased intensity of efforts to create a Naga state crossing existing state lines, a move that would carve out parts of Manipur.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Identification numbers introduced

The official launch of a new program to issue all Indians with identity numbers was held in Tripura earlier this month.  The program represents an ambitious attempt to address illegal migration, something which is perceived to be a particular problem in the northeast. 

Human Rights Watch 2010 World Report

Human Rights Watch's 2010 World Report states that in "Manipur and elsewhere in the north-east" (and Jammu and Kashmir) citizens have "lost confidence in the state's willingness to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable", citing the public outrage at the killing of a 27 year old Manipuri man by police in July (pp. 299).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Four killed in Meghalaya

A gun battle between Indian security forces and suspected separatists last week resulted in the death of at least four rebels in the normally relatively quiet state of Meghalaya.  Those killed were suspected to be from the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NDFB bomb threat

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) yesterday threatened there would be a bomb blast in the coming 48 hours ahead of today's one day international cricket match between India and New Zealand in Guwahati, Assam, according to the Mumbai Mirror.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Incredible AP

Tehelka reported on the Indian Government's strategy to develop tourism in Arunachal Pradesh and other disputed areas to thwart the claims of other countries on those regions last week.

Foreign Secretary: Burma important for northeast

In a recent address on India's foreign policy challenges, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called Burma an "important neighbour" and said that enhancing the two countries' "connectivity as well as security cooperation is vital, particularly in the context of our north-eastern States and our Look East Policy".

Deepened Maoist interest in northeast?

Further to previous reports of expressions of support from Maoist groups for northeast Indian insurgents, the Assam Tribune this week ran an article stating that sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs have suggested that Maoists may be seeking to establish bases in the region and that security agencies suspect northeast militants of supplying weapons to Maoists.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Widows of Manipur, a website focussing on Indian Muslims, but also covering marginalised India more broadly, today carries a piece on the plight of the widows left behind by the ongoing violence in Manipur, including a number of personal stories.

Manipur: drug haul

Hueiyen Lanpao yesterday reported that 1000 kg of marijuana has been seized by the Assam Rifles in the Senapati district of Manipur.  The report does not speculate on the source or owners of the illicit drugs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Talks between Mizoram and HPC-D

The Mizoram Government will hold talks with the Hmar People's Convention - Democrats next month.

The Hmar People's Convention - Democrats (HPC-D) seeks Hmar self-government in sections of Mizoram, Manipur and Assam.

No mercy in prosecuting NDFB

The Times of India quotes Home Minister P Chidambaram saying that that security forces should "go all out" in their efforts to apprehend National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) rebels.  The NDFB claimed responsibility for the massacre of 23 Hindi-speaking people earlier this month.

Naga progress due to cooperation with Burma: Hindustan Times

The Hindustan Times ran an interesting editorial earlier this week on Burma, and India's engagement with different elements within that country, crediting the progress in reconciliation with Naga insurgents to a decision by the Indian government to cooperate with Burma.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

UNLF establishes microfinance scheme

NDTV reported this week that the United National Liberated Front (UNLF) has established a microfinance scheme in Assam and Manipur, presumably to increase its popularity with the local populace.

The UNLF is one of the oldest insurgent groups in Manipur.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Military build-up in Arunachal Pradesh

The Financial Times (free registration required to view their articles) reports that India has formed a new military battalion in Arunachal Pradesh, the Arunachal Scouts, designed to reinforce the defences of that state, claimed by China to be part of South Tibet.  The move comes just days before the 14th round of border dispute settlement talks between India and China.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

21 dead: NDFB rampage

Reports are today coming in of a series of shootings, allegedly by members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), in northern Assam.  The death toll stands at 21.  The attacks appear to target Biharis and coincide with US President Obama's visit to India.

UPDATE: the death toll has since been updated to 24.

The South Asia Intelligence Review ran an assessment of the episode last week.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BJP visit Nagaland

The Morung Express reported on a visit to Nagaland by the BJP 'North East India Sampark Cell' (NEISC) national convenor earlier this week.  The NEISC, established in August this year, is the BJP's effort to facilitate the "emotional integration" of the northeast with the rest of the country.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is India's main opposition party.

Upgrade of northeast Indian airfields planned

Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik announced this week that a number of airfields in India's northeast will be upgraded.  Three of the airfields slated for an upgrade are in Assam (Tezpur, Chabua and Guwahati).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bodo arrests in Bangalore

The Deccan Chronicle reported the arrest of five members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland in Bangalore last week in a joint operation between local and Nagaland police.

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is based in Assam.  It signed a ceasefire agreement with the Governments of Assam and India in 2005.  The individuals arrested are reportedly from an NDFB faction that does not accept the ceasefire.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Joint declaration between Maoists and Manipuri group

Security agencies have reportedly unearthed a declaration jointly issued by the Revolutionary People's Front and the CPI-Maoists in which the two express mutual moral support and extend offers of material support for the other's cause.

The Communist Part of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist) is the main group behind India's Maoist or Naxalite movement.  The Revolutionary People's Front is based in Manipur.

ISI agent arrested in Tripura

Sify news reports that an ISI agent was arrested by the Border Security Force as he crossed the border into Tripura from Bangladesh last week.  The agent reportedly told interrogators he was sent by a Bangladeshi opposition party leader.

Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is the Pakistani Government's main intelligence agency.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bomb blast in Assam

There were reports of a bomb blast, derailing four train carriages, 300 km south of Gauhati in Assam on Wednesday.  No one has claimed responsibility.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Northeast militants in Bangalore

The arrest of an important National Democratic Front of Bodoland figure in Bangalore last week was the sixth arrest of an alleged northeast militant in that city in the last two years, leading India Today and local police to consider why such groups choose to operate, at least in part, from Bangalore.

Senapati - Insurgent Sanctuary (SAIR)

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) of the South Asia Terrorism Portal published a briefing on the Senapati valley of Manipur this week, covering in detail violent events relating to the Kuki and Naga insurgencies in that district over the last decade.

Interview: Naga National Council

Indian magazine Tehelka carries an interesting interview with Naga National Council veteran Thinoselie Keyho covering training in China in the sixties, corruption in present day Nagaland and prospects for reconciliation between the various Naga nationalist groups.

Shades of previous success in arrest of UNLF leader?

As clarity around the circumstances and status of the reported arrest of UNLF leader Rajkumar Meghen remains illusive, KanglaOnline ran an editorial this week pointing out the similarities between this case and the capture of the NSCN(IM) leader in Thailand in 2000, an event that was followed by the signing of a ceasefire agreement between that group and the government of India.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak Muivah, or NSCN(IM), a Naga nationalist group, was itself in the news this week with sources reporting the arrest of leader Anthony Shimrey while another quoted leader Kihoto Yepthomi  reaffirming the group's commitment to peace.

China's Google Earth claims Arunachal Pradesh

Launched this week, the state-controlled rival to Google Earth in China places Arunachal Pradesh in China's southern Tibet region.  See for yourself here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Indigenous rights under the spotlight

The Meghalaya People's Human Rights Council raised concerns for the human rights of indigenous people in Northeast India, particularly in relation to human trafficking, at the 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council in September according to The Northeast Today.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

BSF head underlines importance of Bangladesh

Speaking at a press conference in Bangladesh, new head of the Border Security Forces (BSF) Pranay Sahaya said this week that peace in the northeast is contingent on further gains against insurgents in Bangladesh, a country in which many such groups maintain camps.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

ToI: conflicts in Kashmir and northeast "foreign-inspired"

In a very entertaining editorial on the virtues of Indian improvisation published at the conclusion of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the Times of India makes a passing reference to the "largely foreign-inspired divisiveness in Kashmir and the north-east".  This statement alone might raise some eyebrows, as no doubt would paralleling Kashmir, the northeast and the Maoist movement with "collapsed footbridges and filthy toilets" in a Commonwealth Games metaphor for independent India.

UNLF leader arrested...maybe

The BBC reported on Wednesday that United National Liberation Front (UNLF) leader Rajkumar Meghen was arrested in Bangladesh and handed to India.  A day later, Manipur-based KanglaOnline quoted an Indian official as saying that the UNLF leader had not been extradited to India and that there had been no official confirmation of his arrest in Bangladesh.

UNLF is a Manipuri separatist group.

Update (18/10): UNLF has confirmed its leader's arrest, according to a Manipuri website, accusing the governments of Bangladesh and India of conspiring to conceal the arrest.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Debating the AFSPA

Lt Gen Yadava, outgoing chief of the Assam rifles, has again made the news, this time arguing for the importance of the Armed Forces (Special Forces) Act (AFSPA) which he says has been politicised.  The AFSPA has been prominent in the news lately with moves for it to be repealed, wholly or partially, in Jammu and Kashmir.  There have been reports today of the Act's extension for six months in parts of both Arunahcal Pradesh and Tripura.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Localised autocracy in the northeast

The Navhind Times, a paper based in Goa, carries an opinion piece on the northeast.  In it, the authors argue that the centre is happy to see the continuation of localised autocracy in the northeast given that region's relatively small electoral punch.  It notes that while cross-border cooperation has seen an abatement of insurgent activity in the region in recent times, this policy of managing, rather than seeking to remedy, the many and complicated grievances of the northeast means that insurgent activity could again flourish.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ULFA members surrender

Current Intelligence reports that around 20 ULFA members have surrendered to Indian forces. An undisclosed source attributes the development to collusion between captured ULFA leaders and Indian security forces.  The article also notes the contribution of increased regional cooperation to combatting insurgent activities in the northeast.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mediation process for Assam and Nagaland

The Morung Express, a newspaper based in Nagaland, reports that a mediation process to resolve the border dispute between Assam and Nagaland is to commence on September 18.

PM Singh says situation in northeast improved

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Combined Commanders' Conference in Delhi yesterday that the situation in the northeast has improved.  An excerpt of the speech can be found here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010