Friday, November 25, 2011

Confusion over new Naga body, administrative renewal for ULFA

Two hardline faction ULFA cadres were killed this week when explosives they were laying on a railway track in Assam explodedULFA claims the men were killed by security forces.  The hardline faction announced its new central committee this week.  The new acting chairman is an unknown.

The Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses has an article on the potential supra-state Naga body mentioned in last week's post.  Affected Chief Ministers have responded with both confusion over the verity of the original report and oppositionThis week's South Asia Intelligence Review has an overview of the ongoing battle between the NSCN-IM and the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), another Naga body.

Briefly, in other news, progress has been made on the extradition treaty between India and Bangladesh.  In Manipur, the government has been destroying floating huts, people's homes on Loktak Lake.

This will be my last post for 2011.  Northeast Indian watchers should never be starved for reading material though.  The Seven Sisters Post, which broke the story on the potential new Naga entity, was launched just a couple of weeks ago, adding to the healthy stream of news and analysis from the region.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baruah and China, GNLA and Pakistan, Tripura and Greece

Four people were injured in an explosion in Manipur yesterday.  Also yesterday, Government forces shot dead three ULFA militants in Arunachal Pradesh.  Two government offices and four government buses were set alight in Arunachal Pradesh last Friday.

There’s been vague whisperings about the Central Government considering forming a ‘supra-state’ Naga body before the end of the year.  As the Naga imposed blockade in Manipur continues, two weeks after the Kuki-led blockade was called off, the Zeliangrong Youth Front (ZYF) has threatened agitation if their land is included in the to-be created Sadar Hills District.

The Times of Assam says ULFA pushed for talks and dropped its core demand for sovereignty only to get its leaders out of jail.  They claim the rift between the two factions is pure fiction and that the two continue to coordinate closely.
11 people have indicted in Bangladesh on arms smuggling charges.  They include Paresh Baruah and other high profile individuals including former ministers and senior bureaucrats.  Apparently the Indian Government has concrete evidence that Mr Baruah is in China.

Someone has a sense of humour: Manipur has been named “best improved state in governance among small states of India”.

There are fresh accusations of links between Pakistan’s ISI and northeast groups: this time it's the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). 

What do Greece and Tripura have in common?  No, it’s not souvlaki.  Tripura is reportedly enjoying a “severe fiscal crisis” and seeking a bail out of the order of US$3b. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A week of progress: new CM for AP and an end to the blockade in Manipur

The Kuki Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC)-initiated blockade was finally lifted this week following written assurance from the Manipur state government that Sadar Hills district would be created.  The United Naga Council counter-blockade remains in place.  The LA Times has a pessimistic but interesting article on the blockades.  One claim I found particularly interesting, which is mentioned only in passing, is that those seeking local government positions in Manipur need to pay bribes in the region of $10,000.

Nabam Tuki was sworn in as the new Chief Minister for Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.  Tuki, the leader of the agitation against previous CM Jarbom Gamlin, was nominated by Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.  He is from the Nishi ethnic group.

The hardline Paresh Baruah-led ULFA faction warned civilians to stay away from security and political party “installations” which it vowed to strike this week.  It also reportedly launched an extortion drive to raise much needed funds.  External pressure on the group continues with fresh raids on ULFA camps in Bangladesh  reported yesterday. 

In Darjeeling-area politics, it was reported this week that the title Gorka Territorial Administration (GTA) will be changed to Gorkhaland and Adivasi Territorial Administration after an agreement between the Gorka Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Adivasi Vikas Parishad (AVP).  It seems that the GJM's tactic is to offer reserved Adivasi seats in turn for the inclusion of the Terai and Dooars in the GTA (or GATA).  Confusingly, it was subsequently reported that such an agreement was not in fact reached, but rather that it was only proposed by the GJM.  Regardless, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appears to be taking credit for being behind the agreement's brokerage.

Banerjee also said this week that her party, Trinamool, aspires to national influence and will begin its expansion in northeastern states. 

Four police and one civilian were killed in a shootout between police and suspected Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants in Western Meghalaya on Monday.  The state government has vowed to step up operations against the outfit, while the central government this week sought its views on classifying the GNLA as an outlawed rebel outfit.

CNN-IBN reports that the Indian army intends to station an additional 100,000 men in Arunachal Pradesh.  This follows recent reports (see this post) that India intends to increase its missile deployment along the Chinese border in that state.

This week's South Asia Intelligence Review has an article on the Maoist infiltration of the northeast, describing Arunachal as a "hotbed" of Maoist activity.  Times Now reported this week that the central government has intelligence that there is increased Maoist activity in the Arunachal-Assam border area.  

In other border-related news this week, tension persists on the Assam-Nagaland border, The Asian Age has an article on the many hardships of living on the India-Bangla border - despite the recent border agreement between the two countries - and it was reported that the Border Security Force (BSF) is likely to replace the Assam Rifles on the India-Burma border.  A similar report was made about twelve months ago.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Not so happy Diwali

Two bomb blasts in a market injured seven, marring Diwali celebrations in Manipur last week.  There was also a bomb blast on a railway track – no injuries were reported – and trains were disrupted in a number of states when two train drivers were abducted in Assam.  An Indian government report released last week found that Manipur and Assam have respectively the highest and fourth highest crime rates in the country.

Jarbom Gamlin finally caved in to pressure and resigned as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.  It is not clear from current reports whether or not the Congress Party has accepted the resignation.

An Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA) article published last week reflects on the continuing blockades in Manipur and makes some constructive suggestions, such as opening the Moreh-Tamu border trade point with Burma.  Despite the huge disruption to daily life caused by the blockades, two autonomous district council by-elections were held in Manipur last Monday without incident. 

Last week's South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) includes an article on the newly formed Karbi Peoples Liberation Tiger (KPLT) group and Karbi National Protection Force (KNPF), splinter groups of a more established Karbi group, the United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), currently in talks with the government.  The Karbi people are based in a sixth schedule autonomous district council in Assam.

This CNN-IBN report on corruption in a small Meghalayan village, Upper Kew, is well worth watching.  Despite its jarringly over-dramatic production, it highlights a very real and under-acknowledged problem in the northeast.  Residents in Upper Kew contend they have received no government assistance funds in years.  The central government does however have records of funds, such as employment benefits, being disbursed to individuals in the town.  The likely cause of this discrepancy is a misappropriation of Indian government funds by actors that mediate, often with devastating effects, the relationship between the northeast Indian public and the central government, namely instruments of the state government and insurgent groups.   

Tripura is to have four new districts (doubling current total), six new subdivisions (on top of existing 17) and five new blocks (new total of 45), effective January.  It isn't clear how these new divisions have been devised. 

Following President Thein Sein's recent visit to India, the Burmese government has announced it will let residents of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh enter Burmese territory within a prescribed distance from the border without a visa.  This move mirrors an Indian concession made earlier in the year  

ULFA's non-talk faction has reportedly been busy recruiting and fundraising in remote northern areas of Assam, slipping over the border to Arunachal Pradesh to AP to evade authorities.  Meanwhile, nothing of any real note seems to have occurred during the latest round of ULFA-government peace talks.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weapons and violence in Assam; dark days in Manipur

This week ULFA handed over weapons ahead of the next round of peace talks, scheduled for 25 October.  Meanwhile, a cache of so-called “sophisticated” weapons was seized in Assam.  The European weapons are thought to have been headed for the NDFB.  In other weapon-related news, India will deploy three BrahMos cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh.  

There has been violence in Dima Hasao district, Assam, with at least one dead.  Assam police allege NSCN-IM involvement in the unrest.  Around 200 Hmar's from the district have fled to Mizoram.  Hmars are a minority in the district, which is dominated by the Dimasa ethnic group.  

There was also more violence between the NSCN-IM and the Zeliangrong United Front in Manipur's hills this week.  In other violent developments in the region, a senior Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militant was killed by Meghalaya police.  And a bomb exploded in a Manipur district bordering Burma this week, injuring three Assam Rifle officers.

Following the recent release of a report on the impact of conflict on women in Assam and Nagaland (referenced in last week's post), UAE-based The National ran an article on the plight of Manipur's widows and orphans.  An article in the Times of India ponders whether Manipur is doomed to be a failed state.

A Times of India report reveals that Rongili (“cheerful lady”), Lakhimi (“homely lady”) and Kopili (“speedy river”) are code words for ULFA factions in Burma, Bangladesh and an island in the Brahmputra respectively. 

Controversy over the India-Bangladesh border deal persists.  A Minister in the Assam Government said they should not have made public the details of the deal, a move made in retaliation to an inflammatory press release from Paresh Baruah.  The state government accuses Baruah of drawing out these details in order to give the Bangladeshi government trouble as the previous government and now opposition in that country was much more ULFA-friendly. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Women in conflict, tension between states and rebel groups and positive bilateral developments

The Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research has released a major report, Bearing Witness, the Impact of Conflict on Women in Nagaland and Assam.  It makes a number of recommendations, including among others the establishment of a conflict studies institute, dedicated female legal services, rehabilitation and compensation packages, specialised mental health services and improved earning opportunities for women.

A recent United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) press release called for northeast Indian insurgent groups to unite against their common enemy: the Indian government.  In the face of persistent rivalries, competing aims and violence, this seems an impossible goal.  On 7 October for instance six National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) cadres and one civilian were killed in a shootout between the NSCN-IM and the Zeliangrong Tiger Force (ZTF) , the armed wing of the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF) in Manipur.

Leading expert on northeast Indian politics, Sanjib Baruah, published an article in Himal on the current peace process between the government of India and UFLA last week.  Bodos recently marked the 25th anniversary of the start of their struggle.  Tehelka ran a piece on their frustration at the lack of attention, relative to ULFA, being paid to them by the central government.

A pro-Assam activist said last week that the Assamese government is standing by as Naga interests encroach on its territory, by for example building government offices.  He suspects a conspiracy between Nagas and the central government to bring about a greater Nagaland, or Nagalim.  A couple of days later the Assam Government asked its counterparts in Nagaland to remove police from its territory.  Meanwhile, in the complicated musical chairs that is loyalty in the northeast, inhabitants of the West Khasi hills area of Meghalaya reportedly want to join Assam.

A bandh in Arunachal Pradesh’s capital Itanagar last Tuesday resulted in at least 50 people injured and calls for calm by embattled Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin.  In other bandh-related news for the region, the Sadar Hills District blockade is now the longest ever in Manipur, passing the 70-day milestone last Sunday
There were some positive developments in northeast India since my last post.  The central government is working on a plan to spend Rs. 80 billion upgrading roads in the region. Following the failure to sign a comprehensive agreement on transit during PM Singh’s recent visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh has agreed to allow India to transport food grains through its territory.  And China and India are said to be working on a mechanism for managing their shared border
Delhi police have uncovered links between the People’s Liberation Army PLA (from Manipur), Maoists (the Communist Party of India (Maoist)) and militants in Kashmir following arrests in Delhi and Imphal, and a raid in Pune
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited Darjeeling and surrounds last week.  The visit did not go down particularly well among locals according to reports.  The fact that the recent Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) agreement in effect only deferred addressing the issue of Gorkhaland's eventual administrative status came to the forefront during the visit.  I published a background article on developments in Gorkhaland on the South Asia Masala blog a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An active week for the GNLA and a new district

Meghalaya police were attacked by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants on Tuesday.  There was an exchange of fire and the GNLA rebels allegedly attempted, unsuccessfully, to detonate an ‘improvised explosive device’.  A Meghalaya Congress MLA wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi earlier in the week saying her intervention is required in the face of continued GNLA threats against parliamentarians.

Municipal elections will be held in early 2012 in Manipur.  There has been violence against, and perpetrated by, supporters of various candidates this week.  The United Naga Council has urged Nagas not to participate.
The Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh met on 24 September in Dhaka to finalise modalities for joint border management.  Agitations against the recent Indo-Bangladeshi border deal continue.  The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) had an 11 hour hunger strike against the deal, and against proposed hydro electric dams.  Also on Indo-Bangladeshi relations, it came out this week that the failure to extradite Chetia to India before Prime Minister Singh's recent visit was not because the two countries couldn’t reach agreement, but because Chetia said he wouldn’t participate in the peace process unless Paresh Baruah was also involved.

India and Burma agreed to double trade to US$3b by 2015.  The countries' respective Commerce Ministers signed the agreement at the 4th meeting of Joint Trade Commission held last week. Veteran journalist Bertil Lintner said in an interview this week that widely reported Burmese army action against northeast insurgent camps never happened but was a manufactured story, leaked ahead of the Burmese President’s visit to India.  
Just as Nagas are currently facing a push for a Naga-inhabited district to be subdivided in the Sadar Hills District stand off, so are Bodos facing pressure from a minority seeking its own administrative entity.  Apparently Bodoland Territorial Council chief and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) president Hagrama Mohilary “fumbled and appeared helpless” while speaking to Koch Rajbonshi United Forum meeting home minister P Chidambaram. The Koch-Rajbongshis want a separate state carved out of Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Dinajpur, Malda, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.  And Arunachal Pradesh got a new district last week.  Longding, carved out of Tirap district, and bordering Burma and Nagaland, is home to the Wancho community.
And over 7,200 Jews from Mizoram and Manipur, known as the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe, are expected to be approved to emigrate to Israel in the near future.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Firearms, messy politics and CRAPB

Northeast India made international headlines this week due to, of course, the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Sikkim.  We felt it here in Pokhara.

India Armed Violence Assessment, a new Small Arms Survey project, released two reports this week.  The first documents the prevalence of firearm murders across India's states and territories.  The most violent states (firearm murders per 100,000 population) are listed in table 3.  Three northeastern states make this list, including the top two (Manipur and Nagaland, which are considerably higher than the next highest state; Arunachal Pradesh is 7th).  Sikkim is one of the states with the least firearm murders (table 4).  The report also discusses the limited available information on autopsy rates.  Interestingly Imphal is found to have the highest rate of any Indian city of autopsies for gun shot victims.

The second report compares the number of deaths due to terrorism (including, perhaps controversially, insurgent movements) and crime in India.  It concludes that the latter is politically neglected given the relatively higher number of victims of criminal violence in the country.  Northeast India is briefly considered on pages 5-6.  In related news, two workers from Bihar were shot dead in Manipur this week. 

The Assam Assembly will hold a one day special sitting on the recent land swap deal with Bangladesh in October in response to expressions of dissatisfaction from various quarters with the deal and the lack of prior consultation. 

A steady, if thin, stream of claims of links between northeast groups and Maoists prevails in the Indian media.  An article this week says Maoists are present in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and that they have links with ULFA and the NSCN-IM.  They are also said to be working with anti hydro-electric dam activists.

Politics is messy in Arunachal Pradesh, especially since the death of the previous Chief Minister in a helicopter accident last year.  A group of rebel ruling Congress Party MLAs have been in New Delhi since July seeking the removal of present Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin.  They are now calling for the direct intervention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The first meeting of the Committee on Reorganization of Administrative and Police Boundaries (CRAPB) was finally held this week.  The CRAPB is the body tasked with producing a report to the state government on the Sadar Hills District issue that is currently crippling life in Manipur.  They have been given three months to submit the report.  Bibhu Prasad Routray this week considered the various next steps the state government can take on this issue.  In brief, these are to force open the highways, create the Sadar Hills District as desired by Kuki groups, create the district under a different name, try and have Kukis and Nagas talk to each other and do nothing.  None of these options seem particularly promising.

Naga groups oppose Sadar Hills being transformed into a fully-fledged district because the area has a Naga population and they want to see Naga people united under one administrative construct, rather than divided more than they already are.  Now they have problems from within as well: a group called the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation is calling for a new state, Frontier Nagaland, to be carved out of Nagaland.  They held a large rally this week.

This week's South Asia Intelligence Review has an article on the United Democratic Liberation Army (UDLA), a Bru and Bengali Muslim group based in southern Assam.  Indian security forces have taken notice of this and one of its splinter groups, the only two Bru groups that remain operational.  The author predicts that as a result “it is unlikely that these groups will retain their capacities for disruption and violence for long”.

Allegations were made about Paresh Baruah’s business investments in Bangladesh this week.  Indian intelligence says he’s invested over US$20million in that country.  ULFA promptly issued a press release denying the claims.

The Meghalaya government has handed over land to the North East Frontier Railway for the construction of a railway that would link the state to the rest of the country.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Business as usual: violence, blockades and words

There were reports this week that Paresh Baruah may have been injured in Burmese army assaults on northeast Indian insurgent camps in Burmese territory.  Indian intelligence sources have however said there is nothing to substantiate the claim.  A second Burmese army assault commenced last Sunday.  In other United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) news, leaders of the pro-talk faction and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) met this week and issued a joint statement on the friendship between Nagas and the people of Assam.  And Rediff provided a different perspective on ULFA's illusive leaders by interviewing the families of Anup Chetia and Paresh Baruah.

Last Saturday there were reports of trucks set on fire on national highway 39 and rumours of drivers murdered on highway 53 as the blockade in Manipur continues to wreak havoc.  Also in Manipur, four people were injured in a grenade attack on a home in Imphal East.

Irom Sharmila continues to enjoy her recent run in the international media: the New York Times published a profile last Saturday. There's also been a stir over a report on Sharmila's love life.  A silent rally was held in Imphal this week to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (the object of Sharmila's protest).
Members of the Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB), a central government paramilitary force, allegedly committed a gang rape near the Bhutan-Assam border.  The 7th India-Bhutan meeting on border management was held this week. The parties said they would step up coordination against remaining Indian rebel activity in Bhutan.
Finally, ten National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants surrendered in Tezpur (Assam).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ULFA signs pact, Bangladesh visit disappoints

A suspension of operations pact was signed between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Indian and Assam Governments on the first day of their latest round of talks in Delhi. The pact is a stop gap measure, intended to be in place until a political agreement is reached.  Commentators have provided a full spectrum of responses, from optimism - because for example the move echoes similar steps taken earlier in Tripura - to mystification - how can a ceasefire be declared when one of the parties is for all intents and purposes already disarmed?  Parallel talks involving the Karbi Longri National Liberation Front (KLNLF), a group with close ties to ULFA, were inconclusive.

Meanwhile, the Indian Government is worried that the recent acquisition of Chinese arms by the Paresh Baruah, or anti-talks, faction of ULFA (see this post) could ultimately be destined for Maoists.  Bibhu Prasad Routray recently wrote an article on fledgling northeast-Maoist militant links.  In an interesting development, given the credit given to Bangladesh in ultimately bringing talks faction of ULFA to the negotiating table, anti-talk faction bases in Burma were attacked by the Burmese army (with supplies from the Indian government) this week. 

The general consensus on PM Manmohan Singh's visit, together with a number of northeast Chief Ministers, to Bangladesh this week, is disappointment, tempered by some important gains.  West Bengal's relatively new Chief Minister pulled out at the last minute to protest the proposed Teesta river water sharing agreement.  This step apparently worked, with no water sharing agreements signed.  Likely as a result, the much anticipated (on the Indian side) transit agreement also failed to materialise.  This reportedly resulted in a “wave of disappointment” in Tripura.  Neither did the hoped-for extradition of a senior ULFA figure eventuate.

All in all, the visit resulted in one agreement (the obscurely titled “Comprehensive Framework Agreement on Co-operation”) and nine deals (including on university cooperation and renewable energy).  One of the major achievements was the signing of a border pact finalising land swaps between Bangladesh and Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal.  This should finally give formerly stateless people definite citizenship rights.  The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  however decried the lack of consultation on the pact.  

The blockades in Manipur continue.  The SHDDC announced that the general strike was over on Tuesday, but the economic blockades of national highways remain.  The Chinland Guardian has an interview with the General Secretary of the Kuki International Forum.  He gives a good overview of the technicalities behind the demand for a Sadar Hills district.  Another comprehensive background document is available from E-Pao.  And it seems demands for new districts in Manipur are in fashion: another such movement in Tongjei Marin emerged this week.

Despite all the talk about Irom Sharmila of late, the AFSPA was officially extended for another six months in Tripura this week.

29 Naga militants surrendered to authorities in Manipur this week.  Significantly none identified as National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) militants.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fasts, more bandhs and talks, and Indo-Bangladeshi relations

Now that Anna Hazare's fast is over in Delhi many are comparing his action with Manipur's Irom Sharmila, who is soon to complete the 11th year of her fast for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).  There have been some reports that Hazare will now visit the northeast, although other reports suggest this is not yet confirmed.  CNN-IBN carries a short interview with Sharmila, in which she calls her life "somewhat odd".  Video footage and a transcript are available.  The Indian Government has said it is again considering ammendment or replacement of the AFSPA, although it does not sound particularly optimistic, Home Minister P Chidambaram stating simply that, as in the past, they are "trying".  The Communist Party of India (CPI) has responded by demanding the Act be scrapped immediately.

Ahead of his trip with PM Singh to Bangladesh, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi acknowledged that country's role in disrupting ULFA's activities and said that he wants to increase trade between Assam and Bangladesh to return the favour.   Illegal Bangladeshi migrants remain a sensitive bilateral issue.   Moreover, some in Bangladesh have cold feet about the transit agreement set to be signed during the visit.  Critics of the agreement say it will increase northeast Indian militant activity in Bangladeshi territory and that Bangladesh should hold on to transit as a bargaining tool for other bilateral issues such as the trade deficit, illegal migrants, border killings, border demarcations and resource sharing.   There are also concerns that current and potential trade between Bangladesh and northeast India would be destroyed by the agreement, as trade between the northeast and 'mainland' India would be made so much easier.  For further background on the Indo-Bangladeshi relationship, see last week's edition of the South Asia Intelligence Review.  Also of interest is a US diplomatic cable recently released by Wikileaks.  It discusses a 2008 meeting between the two countries' Foreign Ministers in which both listed northeast Indian militancy as a priority area for cooperation.

The Sadar Hills saga continues in Manipur.  A school and a truck were torched by the United Naga Council (UNC) in Sadar Hills Subdivision, while a grenade was found in a hospital in Imphal West District.  The All Naga Students' Associtation of Manipur added their two cents to the fray, stating they are against the division of Naga areas (and hence the creation of new districts).  To add insult to injury, a further 24-hour bandh was called for 1 September to protest the disappearance of a Revolutionary People's Front assistant public secretary.  Tehelka has an article that considers the everyday impacts of these protracted bandhs for Manipur's long-suffering population.  The bandhs are in effect on National Highways 39 (which heads north from Imphal, through Nagaland capital Kohima, to Assam) and 53 (heads east from Imphal to Badarpur in Assam, near the border with Bangladesh).  Goods are getting into Manipur from other directions however: a large amount (300kg) of pseudoephedrine was seized by the Border Security Forces (BSF) at the border town of Moreh this week. 

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) bandh called for 26-27 August mentioned in last week's post turned into a non-event. Apparently not discouraged, the NDFB responded by calling yet another bandh for 1 September which proved more successful with hundreds taking part in sit-ins and other forms of protest on that day.

 The next round of talks between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Indian Government commenced in Delhi on 3 September.  Militants from the non-talk faction threw a grenade at a police station the night before.  Tehelka has published a very useful and comprehensive article on the background and current state of talks between ULFA and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and the government.  Kanglaonline debates the value of talks in the face of continued violence.  Like the HD Centre report discussed in a previous post, which considered the same question and reached the opposite conclusion, this article uses the case of the NSCN-IM as evidence.

Manipur's Chief Minister said early last week that the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system should be reintroduced because 'migrants' now outnumber 'tribals' in that state.  The ILP, which means Indians from other states must get a permit to travel to the states it applies to, was stopped in Manipur in 1950.  It is still used in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.   A Bill to reintroduce the ILP has been withdrawn and on 30 August students threatened to launch agitations if it is not reinstated.  

Finally, a group that doesn't often make the news did this week with the arrest in the Imphal Valley of five Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) militants for arms supply and extortion.  KYKL is a Meitei group seeking to "clean up" Manipuri society.