23 September 2015

Manipur Tribal Leaders Met President and Tribal Affairs minister

The representatives of Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi along with 5 delegates of Autonomous District Council Churachandpur from Manipur today met Mr Pranab Mukherjee, President of India and Mr Jual Oram, minister of Tribal Affairs reiterating Centre intervention to bring political solution to the problems face by the tribals in Manipur State.

The team also submitted memorandum to the President and Tribal Affairs minister highlighting the major concerns of the hill people and history of discriminations and subjugation to the tribals of Manipur State. Both assured the delegations that they will do the necessary follow up.

The delegations requested the President to meet MHA Internal Security secretary Mr Ashok Prasad, who visited Churachanpur today spending about 3 hours with the people of Churachandpur.

The team strongly urged the President that the secretary must be consulted before he makes any decision to the bills, when the bills come to his office for consideration. The president was presented a beautiful traditional shawl brought from Churachanpur which he graciously received.

The team strongly urged the tribal affairs minister to fight for the protection and safeguards of the tribals rights which is recognized by the Constitution of India. The team also requested him to play an advocating role for the suffering tribals of Manipur within his own Government.

For further information, please kindly contact
Manipur Tribals’ Forum, Delhi
E-mail: manipurtribalsforum(aT)gmail(doT)com

MHA Special Secretary Appeals For Early Resolution to Tribal Issues

Churachandpur, Sep 23
: The union Special Secretary, Internal Security, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ashok Prasad visited Churachandpur today to take stock of the situation in the beleaguered township.

Prasad a former DGP of J&K was given a warm reception by the Churachandpur public at Kangvai where he was given a memorandum by the Chief's association of the district.

Around 10 am the central emissary reached the Lamka Public ground packed with womenfolk in black dress.

The JAC Against Anti-Tribal Bills and the Hmar Innpui, Kuki Inpi and Zomi Council together gave a separate memorandum to the Special Secretary while the women`s joint committee presented him with nine traditional shawls symbolising the nine who lay dead for the cause.

The JAC Chief Convenor, Mangchinkhup Hauzel, making known the demand of the committee and of the people, said that the JAC and the people are happy to see an emissary of the Union Ministry of Home.

The crowd in the meantime shouted slogan like “We want separate administration”, `Welcome the Centre Govt”, `Long live Pu Ashok Prasad” etc.

After presenting the memorandum, Prasad in his speech said that he feels and shares the pain that the people are going through, particularly the families of the victims.

“I congratulate the perseverance and effort of the women, the JAC and elders. I appeal to the older people to continue guiding us in the future too,” he said and asked the people to show now that they can find a solution.

Later LB Sona, the leader of the three apexs house presented a memorandum on behalf of the Joint apex body, the Zomi Council, Kuki Inpi and Hmar Innpui.

Sona also said that they were pleased to see the central official since no one from the state government, including politicians, bureaucrats and other dignitaries have bothered to take the trouble to make any spot assessments.

“The stare government tried to portray the incident as a law and order problem only although what is being witnessed is a political problem, and therefore we request the central government to intervene,” Sona further said.

The special secretary later visited the morgue where the nine martyr are kept. He was greeted by emotional scenes from the families of the victims. They told him that they had surrendered their deads to the tribal people for they died for the tribal cause.

In a very touching moment one girl in wailed inconsolably saying in English “I have only one brother. Why did they do this to me?”

After consoling her the official went to meet the JAC and later talked to the press where he said he was sent by the Union Home Ministry to make a direct assessment of the situation here and will apprise the central government.

He also appealed for the dead bodies to be buried and put to rest at the earliest.

“I am convince that this is not just an internal problem but more than that”, Prasad said and further added that he will try his best to do the right thing and report to the centre but the immediate need was to try to resolve the issue and find a solution to the problem.

In regards to the punishment of the culprits for the nine people killed, the official said we must await the enquiry report so action can be taken.

On the question of live bullets being used, he said he will take up the issue to the Manipur State Government.

Shrugging off Chinese ‘concerns’, Modi govt allows US search missions of B-24 aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh

New Delhi, Sep 23
: The eight-member crew of 'Hot as Hell' may get the posthumous honour that they deserve. The US B-24 bomber disappeared in Arunachal Pradesh on a supply run from Kunming, China, to Chabua, Assam, on January 25, 1944, with an eight-member crew on board.

The chances of their remains being recovered have vastly improved with the Modi government allowing the US military to resume search missions in Arunachal Pradesh for the remains of servicemen who died in World War II. That marks a reversal from the position of the United Progressive Alliance regime, which had halted such operations in the northeastern state in 2009 over "concerns" raised by China.

Specialised teams from the US, trained to identify and transport the remains of its soldiers who have fallen in combat throughout the world, are expected to visit several identified sites in Arunachal.

Many American planes crashed in Arunachal Pradesh during the war while on supply missions into China. An estimated 416 aircrew are missing in India from the war. Most are believed to have gone down in Arunachal as transport planes battled bad weather and the Himalayas — a treacherous route known as 'The Hump' — to cross into China in support of the war against Japan.

"Specialised identification and recovery teams from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) will arrive in India shortly to search for Americans that remain unaccounted for from World War II," a US Embassy spokesperson told ET. (POW/MIA stands for prisoner of war/missing in action.) The US has engaged in recovery missions across the world to bring back its war dead but efforts in Arunachal hit a roadblock after the UPA government put a stop to it in 2009, reasoning that the territory was sensitive due to "strategic, internal political, ecological and anthropological reasons". However, recovery missions in other parts of India have continued.


The Arunachal Pradesh curb was lifted after a fresh request was made by the US to the Modi government. That's come as a big relief to family members of the war dead who have been pushing for this.

"The Embassy of the United States of America and DPAA worked with the government of India to coordinate this opportunity for the agency to work in Arunachal Pradesh, searching for US personnel missing from World War II," the spokesperson said. Officials said the Modi government found the previous administration's reasoning invalid.

China claims the territory of Arunachal Pradesh for itself and several of the crash sites are close to the border. Officials familiar with the matter said operations were halted in 2009 largely due to objections raised by China against allowing US military teams into the state.

Family members of the WW II missing in Arunachal Pradesh had come together to lobby for lifting the ban.

"While this moratorium has been in effect, at least two relatives of the Arunachal missing have died, including a nephew of 'Hot as Hell' co-pilot Sheldon Chambers and a brother of bombardier Robert Eugene Oxford," Gary Zaetz, who leads the grouping, told ET. The B-24's crew included Gary's uncle Irwin Zaetz. The crash site of the aircraft in Arunachal was only discovered in December 2006.

Bnei Menashe Jews Mourn Death of Rabbi in Mizoram

Aizawl, Sep 23 : The Jewish community in Mizoram mourned the recent passing away of Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, a religious leader who founded an organization, Amishav, to help the Bnei Menashe ('sons of Menasseh') community in the state and neighbouring Manipur get recognition as Jews.

Jeremiah L Hnamte, a leader of the community that claims to have descended from one of the 'lost tribes' of Israel, said condolence services were held across Mizoram and Manipur on Thursday, the day Rabbi Avichail died at the age of 83. Another round of services will be held on September 24.

Hnamte said a minute's silence was observed, words from the Psalms read out and 'Kaddish' or prayer offered for the Rabbi. "We mourned the death of Rabbi Avichail who was instrumental in the acceptance of the Bnei Menashe community, comprising Kuki-Mizo-Chin people, as Jews," he added.

Rabbi Avichail visited Mizoram in 1988-89 and again in 1996 and 2004. He founded Amishav in 1975 to help the Bnei Menashe community. His successors, including Michael Freund, a columnist with the Jerusalem Post, rechristened the name of the organization from 'Amishav' to 'Shavei Israel' ('returners of Israel').

In early 2005, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in Jerusalem recognized the community as comprising 'descendants of the Israeli tribes'.

According to an estimate by local Bnei Menashe leaders, about 7,000 Jews currently live in the northeast and around 2,000 have settled in Israel.

Nagaland CM Opposes Centre’s Move to Auction Oil Blocks

Kohima, Sep 23 : Nagaland state Chief Minister, TR Zeliang on Monday reiterated his opposition to the auctioning of oil blocks in Nagaland by the Government of India. A press statement from the CMO said that the centre’s action on this would have an adverse effect on the Naga peace process and requested the Government of India to reconsider its decision to auction oil blocks which are located in Nagaland.

Recent reports had cited the Government of India’s decision to put up for competitive bidding the 69 marginal oil fields which have been held by ONGC and OIL, but which have not been exploited.

In a letter addressed to the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, and delivered to him by the Principal Resident Commissioner this afternoon, Zeliang said: “It appears from these reports that there are a few Oil Blocks located in Nagaland which are included in this list of 69 oil fields to be opened for competitive bidding.”

Informing the Union Minister that Nagaland state has framed the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulations 2012 and the Nagaland Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules 2012 in accordance with Article 371-A(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, the CM informed that under these Rules and Regulations, the Government of Nagaland has already invited Expressions Of Interest from interested oil companies, and is in the process of allocating the oil blocks in Nagaland. In view of this, the CM said that the opening up oil fields located within Nagaland to competitive bidding by the Government of India is “not appropriate.”
He also said that such a decision by the Government of India at this juncture would have an “adverse impact on the on-going peace negotiations to resolve the Naga political issue, which is in an advanced stage now.”

The Nagaland state CM further stated that a clear definition of the subject matter relating to ownership of land and its resources in Nagaland as mentioned in Article 371 A of the Constitution of India is “one of the key issues to be resolved in the Naga political dialogues.” Therefore, it requested the Union Minister to consider the matter and “exclude the oil blocks in Nagaland from the purview of the proposed competitive bidding.”

The Chief Minister along with Parliamentary Secretary for Geology and Mining Dr Imtiwapang Aier had camped in New Delhi for a week seeking an appointment with the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas. However, the CMO informed that they had to return to Nagaland last Saturday since the Union Minister was said to be busy with elections in Bihar.
22 September 2015

Mizoram: Martyr’s Day observed to commemorate those who died during Mizo Insurgency

The rebel force turned political party has been observing Martyr's Day every September 20 since 1980.

mizoram, mizoram insurgency, mizoram martyrs, mizoram martyrs day, Mizo National Front, Martyrs Graveyard Aizawl, Mizoram latest news
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The Martyrs’ Graveyard in Aizawl. (Source: Express photo by Adam Halliday) As scores of men and women carrying flowers queued up to lay them at the foot of a 42-feet black-marble monument topped by a white crucifix, C Lalthianghlimi stood in the distance, bent over one of the 1,563 plaques commemorating some of those who died during the two-decades-long Mizo insurgency that ended in 1986.

“At the time, we did not even have a camera. We don’t have a single photograph of him. But I am overjoyed that this plaque carries his name. So I come here often,” the 69-year-old woman said, putting her hand on the plaque that designates it as the final resting place of Zairemmawia, who died on April 1, 1967.

The Martyrs' Graveyard in Aizawl Lalthianghlimi stands near the granite plaque commemorating her brother Zairemmawia. (Source: Express photo by Adam Halliday) She explains Zairemmawia was her brother. He was a teenager when he died, she said, “He had not yet come of age.”

The woman from Hmawngkawn, a village 73 kms from Aizawl, was just one among hundreds of people to attend one of the 17 venues throughout Mizoram where the Mizo National Front observed Martyr’s Day on Monday.

The rebel force turned political party has been observing Martyr’s Day every September 20 since 1980, when its cadres were still living in the jungles fighting for an independent homeland for the Mizos (This year, the observance of the day was postponed since it fell on a Sunday).

When the party was in power for a decade between 1998 and 2008, it built the Martyr’s Graveyard in Aizawl’s Luangmual locality after consultations with local churches and voluntary organisations.
The 2,660 sq mts complex built almost entirely of white marble is large enough to host 2,400 granite plaques designating the names, addresses and date of deaths of those who died because of the insurgency.

Speaking to those who gathered ​there ​on Monday, MNF leader Vanlalzawma, an MLA and former Lok Sabha MP, said, “Mizo Nationalism was embodied by these martyrs, who fought so that the Mizo community did not disappear or was swamped demographically.”

“Unlike regular soldiers, these men and women had no prospects of ex-gratia for their families if they died or pensions for themselves if they lived. But they fought anyway because they were willing to sacrifice everything,” he said.

Elsewhere in Kolasib town, the MNF’s president and former CM Zoramthanga said of the deceased, “They were martyrs because they gave their lives for Mizoram and the Mizo community. The Congress is the principal attacker of these men and women, and praising the Congress as the party that loves Mizoram the most is borne out of shallow thinking.”

In another function at Lunglei town, MNF Senior Vice President and former state Home MInister Tawnluia said, “We are lucky to have thos​e who were martyred for the Mizo community. It is extremely hurtful that there exists some who contemptuously speak of these men and women.”
The MNF and the Congress have been squabbling over the insurgency’s legacy more and more vehemently in recent years, with the Congress leadership accusing the MNF’s then leaders as having begun the insurgency for their personal benefit, causing immense hardship to ordinary people (victims of the Indian Army’s controversial village grouping operations) and singling out the insurgency as a principal set-back for the state’s economy, which remains under-developed with little industry or private enterprise.

The MNF meanwhile maintains the insurgency secured constitutional safeguards for the Mizos of Mizoram and gave birth to the state as it is now (from being a district within Assam before the insurgency years).

​It is not clear exactly how many people lost their lives to the insurgency but besides the 1,563 dead commemorated at the Martyr’s Graveyard, an organisation called the Mizoram Martyr Families’ Association lists out 2,186 victims.

A Meaty Affair: What Makes Smoked Meat So Special

21 September 2015

Manipur Tribal Groups Intensify Stir Against Anti-tribal Bills

Imphal, Sep 21
: Tribal groups in Manipur have decided to intensify their agitation in the hill districts in protest against the three bills passed by the assembly on August 31. The groups have warned of launching an indefinite economic blockade if the bills are not scrapped.

However, the Okram Ibobi Singh government has repeatedly claimed that there was no clause that would hurt the sentiments and interests of the tribal communities.

A few hours after the bills were passed on August 31, violence broke out in the Kuki-Chin-Mizo-dominated Churachandpur district. At least nine tribal protesters were killed, most of them in police action, in Churachandpur, while residences of eight Kuki MLAs and an MP were torched by the mob, which termed the bills as 'anti-tribal.'

Several tribal civil bodies have been calling bandhs in the hill districts since then and the United Naga Council has imposed a 15-day ban on construction of all national and international projects, including the trans-Asian railway network in Tamenglong district. A committee set up by Kukis in Sadar Hills in Senapati district on Friday decided to kick off a nine-day demonstration at different places in the area from Monday.

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