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.

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