Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gorkhaland: renewed call for state

A protest was held in Assam earlier in the week by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Co-ordination Committee, Asom, to call for a new Gorkhaland state in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and surrounding areas.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Government considering further devolution in northeast

A team of central government officials are touring the northeast to gauge public opinion on further devolving governance in the region.  Any devolution of powers would likely see the responsibilities of the region's 16 autonomous district councils increased.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NDFB call for highway blockade

The Times of India reports on a call from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) for a 24 hour national highway blockade on February 15.  The blockade is to act as a protest against the Government of India's "insincerity and apathy...towards resolving the political plight of the Bodos".

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ULFA talks commence

It was reported last week that the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was prepared to commence peace talks and things have moved quickly with a preliminary round of talks with Assamese and Indian government representatives held this week.

In an editorial today, The Hindu ascribes these developments to gains by India's security forces and cooperation from Bhutan and Bangladesh.  The next round of talks will be held in May.

9th BCIM: moving toward track I

Dhaka's The Daily Star yesterday ran an opinion piece from the Centre of Policy Dialogue in the wake of the 9th Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) forum held in January in Kunming, China, on the importance of that forum.  The BCIM focuses on connectivity and trade facilitation between China's Yunnan province, India's northeast, Bangladesh and Burma. 

The BCIM has traditionally been a track II forum, but with three of the four countries' delegations this year led by a government representative, it seems to be transitioning to track I (ie. government official) level.  A recent blog entry on the Australian National University's South Asia Masala argues that track II is likely to be a more effective level of cooperation for the BCIM given the current state of India-China relations.

The Centre of Policy Dialogue is Bangladesh's BCIM focal point.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Volunteers kidnapped in Assam's Manas National Park

The Assam Tribune yesterday reported that six young volunteers with WWF-India have been abducted while undertaking fieldwork in Manas National Park near Assam's border with Bhutan.

No group has yet taken responsibility, although police suspect the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) may be involved.  WWF-India has released a statement saying it is cooperating closely with the government.

Update (9/2): The three female hostages have been released.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

SAIR: Meghalaya's 2010 spike in violence

Despite the upbeat picture painted yesterday by the Union Home Minister of data on insurgency-related violence in the northeast in 2010, the South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) this week highlighted the spike in violence seen in Meghalaya in 2010.  As Minister Chidambaram pointed out, there were no security force casualties in the state in 2010, however the number of insurgency-related fatalities of all types (including security forces, civilians and militants) went up for the first time since 2007 to 20 deaths from 5 in 2009 (Ministry of Home Affairs data).  Following a violent January in Meghalaya and neighbouring Assam, 2011 may not see any improvement. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tripura: fear of violence ahead of local elections

Tripura's Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary today expressed concern that the state would see violence ahead of the 24 February Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections.

Union Home Minister: decrease in violence in 2010

Addressing Chief Ministers, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram today stated that 2010 saw a decrease in violence in the northeast, citing zero civilian or security personnel casualties in Nagaland and Mizoram and zero security personnel casualties in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.  Assam and Manipur were excluded from this upbeat assessment.

Data on insurgency-related fatalities in the northeast can be found at the South Asia Terrorism Portal.