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.
30 October 2015

MZP Leaders Urge Tribals To Firmly Protect Rights

Aizawl, Oct 30 : Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) or Mizo student's federation leaders led by its new president Lalsangzuala Ngente today urged tribal people to stand frim to ensure protection of their safeguards and rights.

The leaders were attending a meeting of different organisations on the occasion of launching tribal movement in Manipur at Churachandpur.
28 October 2015

11 Mizo Students Held for Assaulting Neighbour, Cops

Mysore, Oct 28 : Eleven youths from Mizoram, also students of a prestigious law college here, were arrested for assaulting a woman and policemen on Monday night. They were partying in their rented house and the woman had told them to reduce the noise.

Thirteen students have rented a house owned by Yogesh near Sanjeevini Park close to Kamakshi Hospital in Saraswathipuram. The students had rented the first floor house while the ground floor was occupied by Vanitha and Pruthivi and the second floor house was rented to a family from Madkeri.

Police said the students would party every night and it was a nuisance for neighbours who warned them they'd call the cops.

On Monday night, the law students threw a party for a friend from Bengaluru. Ten boys and three girls were allegedly drunk and allegedly threw cigarette butts to the ground floor.

Vanitha, who lives on the ground floor, warned the students that she'd complain to the cops. But the students had a verbal spat with her and in the commotion, assaulted her with a beer bottle. They also attacked neighbours who rushed to her rescue.

The injured Vanitha called Saraswathipuram police. Head constable Shantharaju and a constable rushed to the spot. The students assaulted Shantaraju too. Additional policemen were called to the spot.
26 October 2015

11 killed, 21 hurt in Mizoram Road Accident

Aizawl, Oct 26 : At least 11 people including two pregnant women were killed and 21 others injured when a passenger bus fell into a deep gorge in South Mizoram’s Lunglei district on Saturday night, officials said on Sunday.

The passenger bus plying between Aizawl and Lawngtlai, headquarter of Lawngtlai district rolled down the deep gorge near Ramlaitui village.

“The bus fell plunged the gorge, when the driver tried to avoid a head-on collision with a speeding truck,” an official of Lunglei district administration said.

11 passengers including four women and the bus driver were killed in the road mishap.

The injured persons including few children and women had rushed to nearest hospital.
15 October 2015

Kaladan on fast track

Centre clears NE-Myanmar transit transport project

New Delhi, Oct 15 :
The Union cabinet today gave its nod for fast-tracking the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project that connects Myanmar to the Northeast, giving a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Act East policy.
The cabinet revised the cost of the project from Rs 535 crore in March 2008 to Rs 2,904 crore. The funds will be given as grant to Myanmar.
The project will provide an alternative access route to the Northeast and is expected to contribute towards the region's economic development.

The idea is to have a 225km waterway from Sittwe Port to Paletwa, both in Myanmar, along the Kaladan river. A 62km road will connect Paletwa to the Indian border village of Zochawchhuah (in Mizoram). The road stretch was cited to be 109km till December last year but details made available today said it would be 62km. Three surveys were conducted by a Mumbai-based company for the road. Sittwe is nearly 550km by sea from Calcutta.
The interlocking Indian road component in Mizoram includes a 99.83km road from Zochawchhuah to Lawngtlai town, the headquarters of Lawngtlai district. A road of over 250km already connects Lawngtlai to the state capital, Aizawl.
"A very good road is being constructed on the Indian side which should be finished in three years. But construction is yet to begin on the Myanmar side," a senior council member of Lai Autonomous Council said over phone from Lawngtlai.
A study by a think tank last year had nudged the government on pending infrastructure projects that connect Myanmar and the Northeast.
Sources said the Modi government is also looking at fast-tracking the connectivity between the Northeast and its Southeast Asian neighbours. A commercial road link and rail link are also on the cards through Manipur into Myanmar.
The Modi government has claimed to have transited from Look East Policy to Act East policy. However, the northeastern states have often asked how the region would be made a stakeholder.
The Kaladan project has been in a state of stagnation for some time, apparently because of land acquisition problems in Myanmar. The idea was conceived over a decade ago when in April 2003 a detailed project report was made on the waterways component, followed by a road component project designed by the public sector company, RITES.
The project was jointly identified by India and Myanmar to create multi-modal transport for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar as well as to the Northeast through Myanmar. This project, which will connect Sittwe Port to the India-Myanmar border, is expected to contribute to the economic development of the northeastern states, particularly Mizoram, by opening up the sea route to the land-locked territory.
It also provides a strategic link to the Northeast by reducing pressure on the Siliguri corridor.
A direct access between West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh will be established when the Calcutta-Dhaka-Agartala bus service, scheduled for Friday, starts. Dhaka had recently helped transport foodgrains to Tripura in the wake of a mega block because of gauge conversion on the Lumding-Silchar-Badarpur rail link that carried supplies to Tripura and Mizoram.
The Kaladan project serves India's economic and strategic interests but also "contributes to the development of Myanmar and its economic integration with India," a government release said today.
In March this year, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated the Zorkhawthar land custom station in Mizoram and promised that projects connecting India and Myanmar would be expedited. The Zorkhawthar-Aizawl road is called the old India-Myanmar border road.
14 October 2015

MNF organises rally in protest against bad road conditions

Representational image (SNS)

Aizawl, Oct : The Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) on Tuesday organised a protest rally in Aizawl city and south Mizoram's Lunglei and Saiha towns protesting bad road conditions across the state.

Former chief minister Zoramthanga alleged non-tribal contractors employed by the Congress government for road construction and maintenance were "taking the government for granted."

The contractors and the people in high places were having nexus on a quid pro quo basis, he alleged.
The MNF chief also accused the state government led by Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of total failure in financial management resulting to bankruptcy.

He said the common people bore the brunt of the extremely bad road conditions, which not only hit them, but also transportation of essential goods to the district headquarters and villages resulting in shortage of food and other essential commodities.

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