28 August 2015

Houses Swept Away, Graves Damaged By Rain and Landslide in Mizoram

Aizawl, Aug 29
: Heavy rains and landslides swept away three houses and damaged 70 graves in two cemeteries here, officials said today.

Three houses were swept away by heavy rains and landslides in the capital city of Mizoram, while four vehicles were damaged in landslides last night, District Disaster Management Authority officials said.

At least 50 graves were also damaged at the cemetery of Chaltlang locality, while 20 at the Ramhlun Vengthar cemetery, they said.

Heavy rainfall during the past one week caused severe damage in different parts of the state as many district headquarters, including south Mizoram's Lunglei, Saiha and Lawngtlai districts, central Mizoram's Serchhip district and Mizoram-Myanmar border Champhai district, remained cut-off from Aizawl due to massive landslides on the roads.

Over a hundred families had been rendered homeless as the river Khawthlangtuipui inundated several houses in south Mizoram's Lunglei district bordering Bangladesh in the past one week.

Wet rice cultivation (WRC) area belonging to around 250 families were also inundated by the floods which submerged the road between Tlabung and Borapansury village, the lifeline of eight villages along the Bangladesh border.

Villagers living along the Bangladesh border area were facing hardship as essential commodities could not be sent to the villages for more than a week, they said.

SC-monitored Bru Repatriation Ends

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OYdA0OjSQBU/VQ_DEkp8QzI/AAAAAAAAgVU/hNJOK6wyHXI/s1600/REANG%2BBRU.jpgNo one willing to return to Mizoram under MHA’s rehab offer.

No one from the more than 11,000 adults enlisted in Mizoram’s electoral rolls and their families who live in these camps has turned up.

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No one from the more than 11,000 adults enlisted in Mizoram’s electoral rolls and their families who live in these camps has turned up.  (file photo)

The Supreme Court-monitored repatriation of Bru tribals who fled Mizoram for Tripura in 1997 ended on Thursday as officials closed the verification counters at Hazacherra, the sixth and last relief camp.

No one from the more than 11,000 adults enlisted in Mizoram’s electoral rolls and their families who live in these camps has turned up to avail of the rehabilitation package offered by the Union Home Ministry (MHA).

The just-concluded repatriation process, which the government has said will be the last time efforts are made to bring back the displaced tribals from Tripura and resettle them in Mizoram, began on June 1.

In line with a roadmap drawn up by the state governments and the MHA (which was submitted to and approved by the SC), officials from Mizoram accompanied by those from Tripura set up verification counters in the six relief camps for several days each.

Anyone willing to return home to Mizoram were to turn up at these counters with necessary documents and officials would then verify if they are bona-fide residents of the state.

They would then be given transport assistance till the villages earmarked for their resettlement and given close to a lakh Rupees per family to help them re-establish their lives, land to build houses on and a year of free rations.

Except for two families who anyway changed their minds a day after they were verified, no one agreed to return under these conditions, in line with the demands of the main body representing the displaced population: the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum has said it wants a bigger rehabilitation package than the one on offer, and that they should be resettled in a cluster of habitations under armed security.

Although the attempt to carry out the repatriation process was largely peaceful in the camps, Tripura Police arrested a security officer accompanying Mizoram officials at Kanchanpur town, near where the camps are located, after a minor road accident resulted in a crowd encircling the team of officials. Several officials were also detained following the incident.

Top Court Stays High Court Order for CBI Probe Against Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister

Top Court Stays High Court Order for CBI Probe Against Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki.
New Delhi, Aug 28 :  In a relief to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, the Supreme Court today stayed the Gauhati High Court order for a CBI probe into corruption allegations related to his tenure as Public Works Department Minister in 2006.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu also issued notice to the CBI and others on the chief minister's plea against the August 21 order of the high court.

The bench, also comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy, granted the relief after senior advocate Harish Salve raised the matter.

Mr Tuki is alleged to have influenced the Arunachal Pradesh government to give some contractual works to his relatives as PWD minister in 2006.

"Majority of the said contracts were of Kendriya Vidyalayas of Government of India at Shillong, Kolkata and Rohtak, Haryana and another one was House Keeping in newly constructed Arunachal House in Delhi and two other small contracts in the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh," the petition said while listing out the allegations against Mr Tuki.

The CM has alleged that high court acted in a "hot and haste manner" and got all the PILs transferred from Itanagar bench to principal bench at Guwahati.

"The present SLP raises important questions as to whether the high court without hearing the parties should have passed an order ordering a CBI enquiry into various ten-year-old contracts, which have already been completed," the petition said.

Earlier on August 21, the high court had ordered CBI to register a case in this matter after it found that Mr Tuki had abused his official position as a minister in awarding contracts to his wife, sister-in- law, brother and other relatives without calling tenders years back.

It had directed the probe agency to conduct a probe against Mr Tuki, besides Kendriya Vidyalay Sangathan, New Delhi, and the Director of Sports Council, Arunachal Pradesh, in this regard.

The high court had said that an FIR should be lodged and the final report submitted before the special court at Guwahati.

Naga Hoho Firm On Integration Demand

Kohima, Aug 28 : The Naga Hoho has stood firm on its demand for integration of all Naga inhabited areas."We have told the Centre's interlocutor, RN Ravi, that integration is non-negotiable.

We won't just accept social or cultural integration," said Naga Hoho president P Chuba Ozukum.On Wednesday, a Naga Hoho team met RN Ravi, Centre's interlocutor to the Naga peace talks, at a hotel upon the latter's arrival at Kohima on a three-day visit. He was here to hold consultations with Naga NGOs and state legislators.

The Naga Hoho president maintained that even the Nagaland assembly had passed the resolution on integration five times.Ravi has assured the Hoho team that Centre will not rest with a 'piecemeal solution' but will work towards bringing in a 'comprehensive solution' to the Indo-Naga political issue.It may be mentioned here that on August 3 a framework agreement was signed between NSCN(IM) and the Centre.Ozukum said Ravi had narrated to the Hoho members the salient features of the framework, which had been kept undisclosed to the public. Ravi also told the team that the Centre would not make the same mistake as it did in the past. The interlocutor is learnt to have told the Naga group that the final agreement will address the interests of all groups concerned.

Naga Students' Federation (NSF) president Subenthung Kithan said on Wednesday, meeting with Ravi was encouraging, positive and serious on the Naga issue. He said Ravi had assured the team of working sincerely to usher in solution at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Ravi called on Nagaland governor PB Acharya at Raj Bhavan, Kohima, late on Wednesday. A late night release from Raj Bhavan said Acharya had told Ravi that the state had requested the Centre to hold talks with other Naga political groups with whom the Centre had entered into the peace deal.

Acharya maintained that it was necessary to incorporate the view of the other groups in the framework agreement. He said talks should be inclusive involving all groups. He had spoken to home minister Rajnath Singh even before the peace pact was signed with the NSCN (IM), he added and expressed satisfaction that both the Union home minister and interlocutor had been meeting all groups, including civil societies, NGOs, mothers' association and activists.
27 August 2015

Several Houses Swept Away in Mudslide in the Mizoram Town of Phullen

Consistent rainfall over the past few weeks have caused landslides throughout Mizoram

Aizawl, Aug 27 : At least three houses have been swept away by a mudslide and several others vacated in a north-eastern Mizoram town, an official said Wednesday, the latest in several weather-related incidents that have damaged property and caused hardship in the remote state over the past one week.

Block Development Officer Zorammuana Khiangte said about 50 feet of the town’s main road has also sunk almost a metre and cut off Phullen from the rest of the state following heavy rains over the past two or three days. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported in the town, about 120 kms from state capital Aizawl.

Consistent rainfall over the past few weeks have caused landslides throughout the state, temporarily blocking roads and highways and occassionally leading to mudslides that have buried residences.

A few casualties have been reported, including a driver in his 20s who later died in a hospital after the vehicle he was driving was buried by a landslide near Sailam village, about 75 kms south of Aizawl, this past weekend.

In eastern Mizoram, a Bailey bridge between Khawzawl town and Neihdawn village was damaged by strong currents of the Tuimuk stream on Monday night, cutting off several villages in the vicinity.

Manipur Govt, ILP Activists Ink Agreement

Imphal, Aug 26 : An agreement has been signed between the Government of Manipur and Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) which was spearheading a movement demanding implementation of inner line permit system in Manipur, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said.

The Chief Minister said the agreement with JCILPS came about after four rounds of talks. The government will introduce Bills related to protection of the people of Manipur soon in the state Assembly, as demanded by the JCILPS. He also informed that the state cabinet would soon forward a proposal to convene the Assembly to the Governor.

State Chief Secretary PC Lawmkunga signed the agreement on behalf of the government, while Khomdram Ratan, BK Moirangcha, Arjun Tenheiba, Ksh Somorendro, Haopu Kom, Md Kheiruddin Shah Moijingmayum, Lourembam Nganbi and Oinam Nandababu signed on behalf of the JCILPS.

The Chief Minister told newspersons that the agreement was signed last night and included seven points with a preamble. The agreement said the Government of Manipur and leaders of the JCILPS had agreed on the actions of the government to enact three laws, for which Bills shall be passed in the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

The Bills are Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Manipur Shop and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The government also agreed to incorporate all the five-point demands of the JCILPS placed before it, while passing the Bills, Singh said. The government should associate the experts selected by JCILPS while framing the rules of the Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015, according to the agreement.

The government should also constitute a Manipur State Population Commission to assess the problems and issues of demographic imbalance and other related matters so as to take up measures towards social harmony and peaceful development, it said.

A white paper on population influx should also be brought out by the state government within one year, it added.

China shadow looms over Naga Accord


Not just a paper threat China has known to foment insurgencies in the North East NSCN (Khaplang), which is opposed to the deal and operates out of Myanmar, is likely to be encouraged by China

Successful implementation of a Peace Accord would also benefit the neighbouring States of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, where there are Naga populations, by ending decades of insurgency and ethnic conflict. In expressing optimism about success of this Framework Accord, reference is often made to the Rajiv Gandhi-Laldenga Accord of June 30, 1986, which has brought about lasting peace, harmony and development in Mizoram. This would, however, be a simplistic assumption.
The Mizoram Accord was inked by the Mizo National Front led by Laldenga, who was the sole and undisputed leader of the Mizo uprising, in a State which is not afflicted with tribal differences and rivalries. Moreover, the Accord was signed when there were no foreign patrons or havens left for the Mizos.
The 8-point Accord clearly spelt out the extent of autonomy the Mizos would enjoy, the process for laying down arms and ammunition and measures for resettlement of underground personnel. This was combined with the conferment of full Statehood and establishment of a separate High Court for Mizoram.
China angle
While the details of the recent Nagaland “framework” have not been made public, it is acknowledged that many complex issues remain to be sorted out. While the demand for a “Greater Nagaland” embracing the territories of Nagaland and Naga dominated areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh appears to have been given up by the NSCN (IM), the issue of Regional Councils or other such institutions for Nagas in the three neighbouring States will remain contentious, especially given the none-too-happy experiences following the establishment of a Bodoland Council in Assam.
Moreover, Naga society is afflicted by tribal rivalries and by the presence of large number of armed groups, each with its own sense of self-importance. Finally, the most powerful insurgent group after the NSCN (IM), the NSCN (Khaplang), which broke along standing cease fire agreement with New Delhi on March 7 and killed 18 Indian soldiers on July 4,remains implacably opposed to the August 3 Accord.
The NSCN (K) is predominantly Myanmar based and its cadres are trained and operate from areas in the neighbouring Sagaing Division and the Kachin State. These areas are along the borders with China, where the Myanmar Government has scant control and China now freely consorts with Indian separatist outfits.
New Delhi has to bear in mind and react imaginatively to the reality that Myanmar now faces serious problems on its borders with China’s Yunnan Province in the Shan and Kachin States. The Chinese have a cosy relationship with the Kachin Independence Army, which exercises full control of areas in Kachin State bordering China.
Ever since they were ousted by Sheikh Hasina from Bangladesh scores of members of north eastern separatist groups including the NSCN (K), ULFA, the Peoples’ Liberation of Army of Manipur and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland have taken refuge along the Myanmar-China border, in Kachin State.
These groups have now come under the umbrella of an NSCN (K) led and quite evidently Chinese backed grouping, calling itself the “United National Front of West Southeast Asia”.
As its name suggests, the grouping is exclusively India centric. We are evidently seeing a return to Chinese policies of the Maoist era, when China backed and armed separatist groups along our borders with Burma and the then East Pakistan.
Importance of Myanmar
Given the policy of NSCN (K) to seek a peace accord for its people and desist from violence within Myanmar, it is unlikely that Myanmar will be in a position to respond positively to any request for the extradition of the NSCN (K) leadership. What can at best be achieved is obtaining Myanmar pressure on the Khaplang leadership to get the NSCN (K) to join the Nagaland peace process and desist from violence. The Home Ministry and needs a word of caution on this score. They should curb the propensity to seek media publicity and conduct all moves involving Myanmar, maintaining strict secrecy.
Apart from the inability of the Myanmar Government to exercise control over areas of Kachin State bordering China, where Indian insurgent groups are based and are strengthening links with China, Myanmar itself seems headed for political uncertainty, as the country heads toward elections for a new Parliament and President on November 8. The two main Parties are the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi (who is still ineligible to be elected as President by the Legislature) and the army backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), led by the Parliament Speaker and former Armed Forces Chief General (Thura) Shwe Mann.
The army establishment, in which former military ruler Senior General Than Shwe wields considerable influence, is still averse to Aung San Suu Kyi, or her Party assuming, or influencing the Presidency.
In these circumstances, both Shwe Mann, who realistically realised that his Party the military backed USDP would receive a drubbing in the elections and Suu Kyi who needed Army support to become eligible for office, appeared to be moving towards a deal, in which Su Kyi’s NLD would back a Shwe Mann bid for President, after the elections. Sensing this, President Thein Sein, with the backing of the current armed forces Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and quite evidently the former Junta Leader Senior General Than Shwe, acted decisively to marginalise Shwe Mann. While positioning himself for re-election, President Thein Sein removed Shwe Mann for the post of the Party Chief of the USDP and himself took charge of the Party. Troops of Myanmar Army positioned themselves around the offices of the USDP and the residence of Shwe Mann. The die was cast and the message sent that while Suu Kyi would enjoy respect as an elected leader, the army would resist her access to effective executive power. It remains to be seen how developments play out in Myanmar.
It is evident that in dealing with implementation of the August 3 MoU with the NSCN (IM), New Delhi will have to tread carefully internally and externally, in its relations with Myanmar.
The writer is a diplomat and former Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan
25 August 2015

Northeast TV calls girls in shorts monkeys, sparks controversy

A news clip aired by an Assamese news channel, which went viral on social media, has equated young girls wearing shorts to monkeys, giving rise to a heated debate in civil society in the northeastern state with some saying "nowadays we are more scared of the media than the police".

Assam boasts of traditionally empowering women, but the video aired by Pratidin Time opened with a shot of a monkey dressed in pants with a voice in the background saying in Assamese: "Monkeys have also started wearing clothes and know how to wash clothes, but girls in Guwahati now prefer wearing shorts for comfort. Maybe for them fashion means exposing, resulting in their attire which is shorter than needed."

The video has a number of clips of girls walking around the city in short dresses or wearing t-shirts and shorts.

Civil society members have protested against the channel and a peaceful march was organised in Guwahati on Sunday. But the inexplicably police arrested several of the protestors, booking them for "violating curfew" when no announcement of curfew was made.

"Privacy is being violated. Nowadays, we are more scared of the media than the police because you never know when and where mediapersons will catch us and shame us, in the name of news, Minakshi Bujarbaruah, researcher and gender rights activist, said over the phone from Guwahati, where she was also arrested earlier for taking part in the protest march. The channel's editor-in-chief, Nitumoni Saikia, posted an apology on its Facebook page for "unintentionally hurting people's sentiments." "We are responsible for what was aired, but the packaging and some of the content (referring to the part about monkeys) were wrong. Warning has been given to the reporter regarding the matter not to repeat anything similar in future," Saikia said.

However, he indirectly appeared to justify the objection to short dresses. "Will you go to a wedding to "naamghar" (traditional Assamese prayer hall) wearing a pair of shorts? No. Some things will never be a part of or be welcomed into Assamese society," Saikia asserted. He said Assamese society still needed to open up to a lot of things, especially when it came to issues like the length or shortness of clothes.

Saikia said that what the reporter "wanted to convey was not intended to hurt anyone. It was to only show people what is going on in the city these days." The channel also carried the views of a man who said: "The culture of Assam is not the same any more. After wearing such things, they (women) have the audacity to shout at men who letch." But is wearing shorts or showing a bit of skin a problem in Assam? According to Abhinav Borbora, Guwahati president of the NGO College Students Welfare, what is worrisome is not the short dress but the fear that Western influences can lead to an "untimely death of culture and traditions."

Borbora, who is also organising an event on the issue in Guwahati, said that according to some people, Western clothes means exposure and Indian attire means tradition. "My point here is that a woman can expose a lot more wearing a saree and a blouse rather than a pair of shorts and a t-shirt," he added. Bujarbaruah says it was "very unfortunate that the media whom we call the pillars of democracy is hell bent on moral policing." She said they were planning on a mass protest next week to sensitise people towards women. "It will help create a movement of like-minded people on a larger scale," she added.

According to observors, the kind of TV report carried by the channel brands people into stereotypes -- one a girl who a man feels proud to introduce to his parents, or another who goes to discos, wears short clothes, drinks and smokes and is therefore labelled as "devoid of Assamese culture". "Gender equality is something that the media should work on more. The media should really break women-centric stereotypes and there should be a sincere effort for gender balancing.

Responsible journalists should take this as an opportunity to educate people," said senior journalist and TV talk show host Wasbir Hussain over the phone.

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