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.