08 March 2016

94 serows die of goat pox in Mizoram

At least 94 serows, the state animal of Mizoram, have been found dead across the state since the outbreak of goat pox disease last year, Environment and Forests department officials said.

The carcasses were found in the forests, mainly near rivers.

Goat pox is caused by the Capripox virus, which can be found in potential hosts such as goats, sheep and cows, and although India is a known endemic region for the virus, there have been no recorded cases of its outbreak in Mizoram, the officials said.

It was initially believed that the animals died of sarcoptic mange, a skin disease caused by a particular kind of mite.

Sarcoptic mange could have been a secondary infection but it was most likely not fatal, they said.
07 March 2016

Mizoram: Lest We Remember

By Shekhar Gupta

The Mizo insurgency was no picnic and the two sides matched each other in brutality. China and Pakistan continued to help the MNF.

March 5, 2016 was the 50th anniversary of the Indian Air Force (IAF) strafing and bombing Mizoram, or more specifically, its capital Aizawl, and has thrown up an interesting question: Was Indira Gandhi right to use air power against her own countrymen, the only time it’s ever been done?

Also, should “India” now apologise to the Mizo people? This needs a fairer debate in this season of alternative histories.

Put yourself in Mrs Gandhi's slippers on March 5, 1966. She had been prime minister for just six weeks, following Lal Bahadur Shastri's unexpected death in Tashkent on January 11. India was passing through the worst crisis years of its history. Its biggest war yet (in September 1965, with Pakistan) had just ended in a mutually withering stalemate.

This was when the country was still recovering from the humiliation suffered in the war with China in 1962, the Hazratbal crisis and Kutch skirmish. The Dravida movement was openly secessionist and Naga insurgency was raging with open Pakistani and Chinese support. The Chinese, who had issued India an ultimatum during the 1962 war, were still threatening our borders.

This when India was going through a series of famines and lived a ship-to-mouth existence, while nursing a post-war economy. This is when Laldenga's Mizo National Front (MNF) insurgency broke out, fully with armaments and tactical help from the then East Pakistan. Remember, there was no Indian Army in the Mizo hills then, only a couple of scattered battalions of the paramilitary Assam Rifles. In Aizawl, its officers and troops lived in the garrison with their families.

The rebel blitzkrieg took the key positions of Aizawl and faraway Lunglei — two major habitations.

In Aizawl, the rebels took over the treasury and put up a “sovereign” MNF flag on it. The Assam Rifles garrison was holding out, young officers leading suicidal counters to delay being run over and left to the rebels’ mercy along with their families. But it was just a matter of time. Their SOS was a reality.

The nearest Army units were at least a day’s drive away, and were sure to be blocked on the way. It was in this situation that Mrs Gandhi, then made fun of as “goongi gudiya” (mute doll) decided to use the IAF. To buy time for the Assam Rifles garrison and to slow down rebel gains in Aizawl.

The IAF didn’t have many fighting resources in the east. So a couple of old Toofanis (too obsolete to be used even in the 1965 war) and Hunters were spared for serious strafing. The rest of the strafing, to just create nuisance, panic, and to buy time, was assigned to small Caribou transport planes based in Silchar in the Cachar planes. Crews simply put explosives in the backs of these slow propellor planes, dived over Aizawl and opened their rear, cargo hatches for these to fall randomly. These Caribou pilots included two names that later became more familiar in their political innings: Rajesh Pilot and Suresh Kalmadi.

The rebels fled temporarily. Until the first units of five Paras, commanded by then Major VK “Tubby” Nayar, fought their way through to Aizawl from the plains.

This is the reality. If you want to read this in much greater detail, please refer to late Nirmal Nibedon's classic, The Dagger Brigade. It will bring to you the picture of how grim that situation was. And what a tough but inevitable decision it must have been for a very new prime minister in crisis times. That should place this history in perspective.

Should the Centre now apologise for this? I think apologies were due from both sides. The government gave a free hand to the Army to use the most brutal methods, including the inhuman and degrading regrouping of tribal villages, following the British doctrine in the Malayan insurgency.

The rebels were not nice people either, shooting soldiers, high civilian officials including the ambush of a governor and once broke into the office of the IG of police, killing him, his DIG and SP special branch. The Mizo insurgency was no picnic and the two sides matched each other in brutality. China and Pakistan continued to help the MNF.

There were many rounds of behind-the-scenes peace talks, particularly after Brig T Sailo became chief minister. One of his sons, by the way, was in the group that successfully attacked the IGP office. The first round of peace was a partial success although the amnesty brought several key fighters over ground and mostly in the political mainstream. The full peace was achieved later, in 1985-1986 under the Rajiv Gandhi-Laldenga accord. It fully ended the fighting.

In the election that followed, MNF founder Laldenga became chief minister and unfurled the tricolour on what may have been the treasury in 1966. All apologies, regrets were now mutually exchanged and buried. Mizoram has been totally peaceful since.

The group that massacred the police top brass had an accomplice, the IG’s secretary, Vanlalzari. She was caught, convicted and awarded a very long sentence. She wrote a diary in jail which, called “Zari Diary”, had become a kind of cult document of the rebellion.

I had an English translation that I referred to often, and was always curious to meet her. Now was my opportunity. She was among those released and pardoned as part of the amnesty. I believe the issue was closed with great dignity and mutual self-respect between the Mizo rebels and the government. This peace accord was a great achievement for Laldenga, Rajiv Gandhi and Brig Sailo who had worked relentlessly for it. His son also came overground, was pardoned and became a successful contractor.

I had done a story on the accord for India Today from Mizoram 30 years ago. Please also note my little chat with Vanlalzari of the Zari Diary fame, who was now a free citizen of India. And the immortal line she spoke to me: “We fought for sovereignty. But sovereignty doesn't guarantee freedom. Poland is sovereign, but is it free?” This was 1986.

The writer is a veteran journalist and author

14-yr-old girl gives life to save others in Mizoram

Aizawl, Mar 7 : In an act of heroism, a 14-year-old girl in Darlawn in the district sacrificed her own life to save others recently. Report said Krista Rohlupuii, daughter of Laldawmliana, a resident of Venghlun locality in Darlawn, drowned in Tuivawl, as she was trying to save her two drowning friends.

Led by their teachers, students of Darlawn Public Middle School went for a post examination sightseeing to Rungdil on Wednesday last. They stopped at Tuivawl river banks to have lunch. When their teachers went away to get wild bananas and bamboo, Rohlupuii, a class seven student, and her four other friends went into the river to cool themselves.

Suddenly, two of them started drowning in the river. Seeing this, Rohlupuii went to their rescue. After she managed to pushed them to the banks, she was too weak and could not swim and drowned in the river.

Her headmaster and teachers found her body in the bed of the river later but could not retrieve it as none of them were a good diver.

They sought help from farmers from Suangpuilawn village, who were camping in their jhum fields not far from the river, to take out the body. Her body was brought home around 1600 hrs on the fateful day after it was examined at Darlawn PHC

Sangma's body brought to hometown in Meghalaya

Tura (Meghalaya), Mar 7 :  Thousands of people from different walks of life paid their last respects to former Lok Sabha speaker Purno Agitok Sangma as his body was brought to his hometown here in western part of Meghalaya ahead of his state funeral on Monday.

As the casket containing Sangma's body, a former Meghalaya chief minister, reached Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, a large number of people linedAup on both sides of the road to have a final glimpse of their leader.

The mortal remains of Sangma were brought to Tura from Assam's Guwahati International Airport in a MI-17 helicopter after being flown there from Delhi in a special Indian Air Force aircraft.

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Development of North Eastern Region Minister Jitendra Singh, former union water resources minister Vincent Pala along with Sangma's family members accompanied the casket from New Delhi.

Meghalaya Governor V. Shanmuganathan later accompanied the mortal remains of Sangma from Guwahati to Sangma's residence at Walbakgre.

Sangma's residence at Walbakgre became a sea of humanity as thousands of people from all walks of life had gathered there. A brief meeting was conducted at the residence where the visiting dignitaries paid homage to departed leader.

Paying his tributes, Shanmuganathan said Sangma was the embodiment of the best qualities of a politician and likened his towering personality to that of the Himalayas.

Jitendra Singh said Sangma was an "iconic figure" and a "role model" for all of them in the parliament. "Ever since I became DoNER minister I have been in touch with Sangmaji seeking his guidance on how to initiate developmental works in northeast," he said.

Rijiju, who had come down to Tura to pay the last tributes on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referred to Sangma as the first political face of North East.

"We have learned a lot from PA Sangma saheb. Cutting across political ideologies, he gave ideas for development of northeast and always worked for the people. We have not forgotten his ideas; we will always work to fulfill his unfinished tasks," he said.

Sangma tallest political leader from NE: Rijiju

New Delhi, Mar 7 : Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju paid last respect to former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma in his hometown Tura in Meghalaya on Saturday. Sangma died on Friday in New Delhi after he suffered a heart attack.

Rijiju was accompanied by Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel and Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space and Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge).

Paying homage to the departed leader, Rijiju said Sangma was the tallest political leader ever from the whole of North East India and one of the best Speakers of Lok Sabha.

He was popular among leaders of all political hues and as Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sangma enjoyed equal confidence and trust of both the treasury and opposition benches, conducting the proceedings with his sharp wit and humour.
He will continue to be a role model for the emerging political leaders not only from the North-Eastern Region but for entire country for a long time to come, Rijiju added.

Speaker mourns Sangma’s death

Mewnwhile, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly Speaker Wangki Lowang has expressed shock over the sudden demise of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma who passed away in his New Delhi residence on Friday."

In its condolence message, Lowang wrote, his death has caused a vacuum in the political history of India in general and North East region in particular. His services as Speaker, Union Cabinet Minister, Meghalaya Chief Minister will always be remembered in days to come. He was the brain behind establishment of North East Regional Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (NERCPA) and North East Regional Institute of Parliamentary Studies & Training Research (NERIPSTR) which is benefiting the people of North Eastern region of India in strengthening the roots of parliamentary democracy. I would remember him as a man of vision and determination.

He offered his heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family members of Lt. Sangma and prayed to almighty God for eternal peace of the departed soul.
05 November 2015

Thai ‘gunrunner’ Willy Naru who ‘gave arms’ to N-E rebels set to be extradited to India

In September 2010, since the “ground situation in Bangladesh was not favourable to NSCN-IM”, it was decided to postpone the deal. Before his arrest, however, Shimray had allegedly paid Naru US $800,000.

By Sagnik Chowdhury
Willy Naru, thailand arms dealer, NIA, Interpol, NSCN-IM, North-East insurgents, Willy Naru extradition, illegal arms trading, National Investigation Agency, NIA, Thai arms trader, Anthony Shimray, india news, nation news
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Securing Naru’s custody would be a significant breakthrough for the NIA as his interrogation would help establish the chain of Chinese arms supply to North-East insurgent groups.
In a major catch for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Thai national and gunrunner Wuthikorn Naruenartwanich alias Willy Naru, accused of brokering arms deals between insurgents in the North-East and Chinese suppliers, could be extradited to India from Thailand over the next couple of days.

Securing Naru’s custody would be a significant breakthrough for the NIA as his interrogation would help establish the chain of Chinese arms supply to North-East insurgent groups.

Government sources told The Indian Express that an appellate court in Thailand recently delivered its final verdict, turning down an appeal filed by Naru against his extradition. “Typically, it is quite difficult to secure extradition of a foreign national. Naru’s extradition would be a major catch for an Indian agency,” the source said.

India had secured an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Naru, 58, after Naga outfit NSCN-IM’s self-styled major general and commander Anthony Shimray, who was arrested in Patna in October 2010, alleged he had paid Naru for a large arms consignment. Based on this RCN, Naru, who ran a spa in Bangkok, was arrested by Thai authorities in August 2013.

On March 26, 2011, it filed a chargesheet against Shimray, T R Calvin, Hangshi Ramson Tangkhul and Naru. On March 31 last year, a Bangkok court ordered his extradition to India, and also allowed him 30 days’ time to file an appeal against the order, which he did before the appellate court.

According to the NIA chargesheet, NSCN-IM regularly procures arms in bulk from China, “mostly from the Chinese Arms Company NORINCO (North China Industries Company)”. In 2007, Azetho Sumi, one of the top leaders of the NSCN-IM, allegedly deserted the outfit and joined NSCN-K with 70-80 weapons. Due to this, the NSCN-IM ran short of weapons, and Tangkul, the self-styled defence minister of the outfit, discussed the issue with the group’s leadership in New Delhi, NIA said.

Shimray allegedly told Naru that he “wanted to procure 1,000 pieces of arms, including AK series automatic rifles, light machine guns, pistols, rocket-propelled grenades, rocket launchers and five lakh rounds of ammunition, and gave him the list of weapons required”, says the NIA chargesheet.

A deal was allegedly fixed for US $1.2 million for 600 AK series assault rifles and 200 other weapons, including 9mm sub-machine guns, light machine guns, pistols and one lakh rounds of ammunition.

Beihei Port in South China near Vietnam was going to be the loading port while the delivery would be made at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

In September 2010, since the “ground situation in Bangladesh was not favourable to NSCN-IM”, it was decided to postpone the deal. Before his arrest, however, Shimray had allegedly paid Naru US $800,000.
02 November 2015

She's 13, Female, From Mizoram - And She's Tinkle Comics' Newest Superhero

By Lamat R Hasan

Tinkle Comics has a new superhero. She's a girl. And she's from the Northeast.
That's a spectacular leap, with many in 'mainstream' India still lost in the belief that the Northeast is more China than India.

Mapui Kawlim is a laidback 13-year-old from a middle-class household of Aizawl who would rather play cricket with friends than be a wonder kid. Or Wingstar, as she's called in the comic.
Tinkle is breaking a lot of ground with this series, some of it subtly.

Mapui is a reluctant superhero with gadgets for 'super flight' and "super strength" provided by her father Tashi Kawlim who is - hold your breath - an inventor working for the Space Development Arm of the government.

Despite her reluctance, though, Mapui clearly has a generous dose of her father's genes and learns to use Rocket Thrusters, Iron Fists and Reinforced Robotic Arms.

She also becomes her neighbourhood's unofficial saviour in between attending school, dreading math homework and keeping up with sleepover commitments.

To up her energy levels and to give her a semblance of a normal life, her father decides to give her a super-secret superhero boost.

Overnight, Mapui becomes WingStar

Photo: Tinkle Comics
The new superhero may help dispel stereotypes associated with the people of the eight Northeastern states who have been victims of so many racial attacks in cities such as New Delhi and Bengaluru that authorities had to step in to ban the use of pejoratives such as 'chinky'.

Tinkle Comics' editor Rajani Thindiath doesn't see the new comic, which will be unveilved in November, as particularly pathbreaking. "In Tinkle, we have always had characters who hail from different parts of the country. Mapui aka WingStar may belong to the Northeast but she's also a regular teenage girl."

What she does see as pathbreaking in Mapui is perhaps the "first reluctant superhero".

Tinkle has had two female superheroes previously -SuperWeirdos with Aisha in the lead and Maya headlining the futuristic PsyMage series, set in an era when magic is power.

"We need more iconic female heroes to join the plethora of enduring male comic characters in the country - Suppandi, Shikari Shambu and Tantri the Mantri. Over half of the children in our country are female after all."

Tinkle was launched 35 years ago and despite losing some ground in recent years, still has a dedicated following. In middle class households in satellite India, grandparents reading out comics to their grandchildren or siblings fighting over who reads the comics first is not rare.

This is the segment that Tinkle Comics is trying to target.

Says Nitya Subramanian, Tinkle Brand Manager, "The comic is cherished in the southern and eastern markets. The anchors being Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Kolkata."

The fact that Tinkle is published in English helps, as middle class India aspires to see its children speak the language fluently. For the rest, it is translated into Hindi, Tamil and Bengali, aimed at readers between the ages of 8 and 14.

There's also the Tinkle ezine, for whose who'd rather read online.

But while the medium has always been trendy - comics are seeing a huge revival, thanks in part to events like Comic Con, and to the rise of graphic novels - what's most welcome is that the messgae is now equally on-point.

Can't wait to meet you, Mapui.

Lengpui Makes News

title=By Nirendra Dev

Mizo civil societies and youth organisations, especially those attached to non-Congress opposition political parties, will be in the national capital soon. They have a host of issues to protest against and also meet Central ministers and others.

The issue of Bru (Reang) voters has been hanging fire for a long time. Mizo society, by and large, and the political class, irrespective of party affiliations, are unhappy over the political developments in Manipur where the alleged “majoritarian”’ approach of Meiteis has created fear of suppression of ethnic Mizos, Kukis and other smaller hill tribes. Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla rose above party affiliation and flayed Manipur’s  Congress government led by Okram Ibobi Singh for passing three controversial Bills. These would be brought to the notice of the Central leadership.

They have another issue as well. It is about the purported move by the state government to hand over Lengpui Airport, the country’s only state-owned one,  to the Indian Air Force. The opposition Mizo National Front and others have threatened an agitation if their “prestigious” airport is handed over to the IAF.

(It is said that for the construction of the airport the locals themselves cleared  the dense forest and when completed  it was inaugurated by a local person.)

The  youth wings of the Mizo National Front, the Zoram Nationalist Party and the Mizoram People’s Conference  issued a joint press statement in Aizawl  stating that “if the IAF operates warplanes from  Lengpui Airport, the capital Aizawl would be targeted by the enemies in times of war”. Something highly exaggerated but that’s how the tribals look at things.

The general impression about Mizos is that they are a laborious lot. The entire history of Mizo insurgency and subsequent developments after attaining statehood suggests Mizos are also pragmatic and will not unnecessarily give an emotive twist to an issue. But the IAF has a unique historical association with Mizoram and Mizos cannot forget that episode so easily — that is, the bombing of Aizawl in March 1966. It  still haunts Mizos.

Even the Army or military leadership have  appreciated that the insurgency problem in the North- east — barring Mizoram in the 1960s — is being tackled politically by the government(s) after they realised there can be no military solution. And even for the Aizawl bombing, the decision came from higher-ups and was not decided unilaterally by the IAF. But the wounds and the pain remain.
Now for the state to run an airport is a costly affair. It is altogether a different issue that the chief minister’s arch rival, Zoramthanga, has listed “gross mismanagement” as the main reason for the financial mess.

The airport has been with the state government for the past 45 years. In fact, Lengpui is the only airport in the country that is state-owned and is still neither with the Airport Authority of India nor the Indian Air Force.

“The Mizoram government in likely to hand over the airport to the IAF,” Mizoram chief secretary Lalmalsawma said, adding that the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, on 24 June came up with a proposal to the state government. Principal Consultant of the Union civil aviation ministry, Wing Commander (Retd) Lalzawma said if the IAF took over the airport, security and maintenance of the runway would be in the hands of the Air Force while the terminal building would be maintained by the state government. He also said the IAF would construct a new hangar while the existing one would be under the state government. Besides the  financial crunch faced by a cash-starved state government, IAF sources revealed that the proposal had been given keeping in mind the strategic location of Mizoram.

The Union home ministry under Rajnath Singh in one of its routine review meetings took cognisance of the fact that the North-east militant groups were using Myanmar as bases and what prompted the IAF move was the trategic location of the state, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Myanmar and sharing a 722- km international border.

Now the government plans to convert Lengpui airport into a military one with a civil apron like Bagdogra in North Bengal.  According to security specialists, the government could use the airport at Lengpui to install powerful a air defence radar system to keep an eye on “developments” in the jungles of Myanmar. The cross-border exchange of gunfire between security forces and Naga militant group led by SS Khaplang in June 2015 was a pointer, they say.

But the politics over the move is likely to escalate. The opposition parties have warned that they would not take it lying down if the Lal Thanhawla government did not think it over. Lal Thanhawla has his reasons for going to town with the rhetoric that he had bowed out of office as chief minister in order to facilitate tformer rebel leader Laldenga to take over charge.

However, the real credit for the same should go  to the pragmatism of Mizos.

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