18 March 2021

TikTok Star Selling the clip as an NFT - and opening bid is set at half a million


  • Last September, Nathan Apodaca shared a short video to TikTok that showed him skateboarding down a street as Fleetwood Mac's song Dreams played
  • The video went viral and garnered a whopping 12 million 'likes'
  • TikTok described the video as ''a resonant moment across pop culture'
  • Now, Apodaca is selling the video as an non-fungible token (NFT), with a starting bid of $500,000 
  • Non-fungible tokens (known as NFTs) are digital assets encrypted with their creator's signature to prove their authenticity 
  • NFTs have exploded in popularity amid the pandemic, as many people seek to invest in digital artifacts
  • Earlier this month, an NFT digital artwork sold for a staggering $69 million through Christie's auction house

TikTok star Nathan Apodaca says he is selling one of his viral video clips as a non-fungible token (NFT) - and he expects bidding to start at $500,000. 

An NFT is a unique digital asset encrypted with the creator's signature, which authenticates it as their original work. NFTs created by famous artists and musicians have become coveted collector's items and have enjoyed an explosion in popularity in recent months. 

Apodaca - who is better known by his TikTok name of 'Doggface' - announced that he was cashing in on the craze during an interview with TMZ on Wednesday. 

The viral sensation boasts a whopping 6.6 million TikTok followers, and one of his most famous videos on the social media site is a 23-second clip which shows him skateboarding down a street to Fleetwood Mac's iconic song, Dreams. 

The video garnered more than 12 million likes when it was posted in September last year, with TikTok even releasing a press release about the clip, calling it as 'a resonant moment across pop culture'.

Idaho-based Apodaca, 38, created a new generation of Fleetwood Mac fans by exposing young TikTok users to the 70s supergroup. 

His viral video tripled sales of the song, and caused streams on Spotify to spike by 127 percent.  

Now, Apodaca himself is hoping to make some money off the back of his big clip - and is auctioning it off as an NFT. 

TikTok star Nathan Apodaca says he is selling one of his viral video clips as a non-fungible token (NFT) - and he expects bidding to start at $500,000

TikTok star Nathan Apodaca says he is selling one of his viral video clips as a non-fungible token (NFT) - and he expects bidding to start at $500,000

What are NFTs?  

What is a NFT?

A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a unique digital token encrypted with an artist's signature and which verifies its ownership and authenticity and is permanently attached to the piece.

What do they look like?

Most NFTs include some kind digital artwork, such as photos, videos, GIFs, and music. Theoretically, anything digital could be turned into a NFT.  

Where do you buy them?

At the moment, NFTs are most commonly sold in so-called 'drops', timed online sales by blockchain-backed marketplaces like Nifty Gateway, Opensea and Rarible.

Why would I want to own one? 

There's an array of reasons why someone may want to buy a NFT. For some, the reason may be emotional value, because NFTs are seen as collectors items. For others, they are seen as an investment opportunity similar to cryptocurrencies, because the value could increase.  

When were NFTs created? 

Writer and podcaster Andrew Steinwold traced the origins of NFTs back to 2012, with the creation of the Colored Coins cryptocurrency. But NFTs didn't move into the mainstream until five years later, when the blockchain game CryptoKitties began selling virtual cats in 2017.  

However, the viral video sensation told TMZ that the clip will come without the Fleetwood Mac music included, as he does not the rights to that iconic track. 

Bidding is set to start Friday Rarible.com - with the opening bid starting at half a million dollars. 

While some may be surprised that tech aficionados may splash six figures on a digital asset, NFTs can sell for astonishing sums.  

 NFTs are similar to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in that they live on blockchain networks - a decentralized, distributed ledger that records transactions of digital assets.

NFTs have boomed in popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people stay home and spend more time on their computers.

Art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile - who has been selling of NFTs - explained their popularity in a recent interview with Business Insider. 

He says blockchain technology allows the items to be publicly authenticated as rare or one-of-a-kind, unlike other online items which can be endlessly reproduced.

A fan of Apodaca's viral clip, for instance, might thus be thrilled to declare ownership of the popular video which will come encrypted with the creator's signature to prove its authenticity. 

'You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn't have any value because it doesn't have the provenance or the history of the work,' said art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, who recently sold a 10-second video for $6.6million.  

'The reality here is that this [NFTs] is very, very valuable because of who is behind it.' 

OpenSea, another marketplace for NFTs, saw monthly sales volume grow to $86.3million in February, as of Friday, from $8million in January. 

Monthly sales were at $1.5million a year ago, the firm said, pointing to blockchain data.  

'If you spend 10 hours a day on the computer, or eight hours a day in the digital realm, then art in the digital realm makes tonnes of sense - because it is the world,' said OpenSea's co-founder Alex Atallah.

Apodaca - who is better known by his TikTok name of 'Doggface' - announced that he was cashing in on the NFT craze during an interview with TMZ on Wednesday.

Apodaca - who is better known by his TikTok name of 'Doggface' - announced that he was cashing in on the NFT craze during an interview with TMZ on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, musician Grimes made nearly $6 million in just 20 minutes by selling her digital artworks as NFTs. 

The 32-year-old musician sold 10 items from a collection called WarNymph that included dramatic illustrations of winged baby goddesses battling in apocalyptic skies. 

Auction house Christie's recently launched its first-ever sale of digital art - a collage of 5,000 pictures which exist solely as an NFT.

The collage - created by a digital artist named Beeple - sold for a staggering $69 million. 

Earlier this month, Grimes made nearly $6 million in just 20 minutes by selling her digital artworks as NFTs

Earlier this month, Grimes made nearly $6 million in just 20 minutes by selling her digital artworks as NFTs 

Auction house Christie's recently launched its first-ever sale of digital art - a collage of 5,000 pictures which exist solely as an NFT. The collage - created by a digital artist named Beeple - sold for a staggering $69 million

Auction house Christie's recently launched its first-ever sale of digital art - a collage of 5,000 pictures which exist solely as an NFT. The collage - created by a digital artist named Beeple - sold for a staggering $69 million

'We are in a very unknown territory. In the first 10 minutes of bidding we had more than a hundred bids from 21 bidders and we were at a million dollars,' said Noah Davis, a specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie's. 

At the time the auction was announced, Christie's - which was was founded in 1766- said it would accept payment in the digital coin Ether as well as traditional money.

'I think that this moment was inevitable and whenever institutions of any kind try to resist inevitability, it does not work out very well,' Davis said of accepting crypto payment. 'And so the best thing you can do is embrace the terrifying.'

Even Elon Musk appeared eager to cash in on the NFT trend earlier this week. 

He claimed he was willing to sell one of his tweets as an NFT, which sparked a furious bidding war on Valuables - a social media network built on blockchain.

Bids reached a staggering $1.1 million within four hours before Musk announced he was rescinding his offer to sell his tweet. 

'Actually, doesn't feel quite right selling this. Will pass,' he wrote.

Denmark will limit the number of 'non-Western' residents in neighbourhoods to 30% to 'reduce the risk of religious and cultural parallel societies'


  • The Social Democratic government made the announcement on Wednesday
  • Each neighbourhood will be limited to a maximum of 30 percent within 10 years if the legislation passes, which it is expected to, after being discussed by parties
  • Data shows 11 percent of Denmark's 5.8 million inhabitants are of foreign origin 
  • Of this group, 58 percent are from a country considered 'non-Western'
  • Denmark has for years had one of Europe's most restrictive immigration policies 

Denmark will limit the number of 'non-Western' residents in neighbourhoods to up to 30 percent to 'reduce the risk of religious and cultural parallel societies'. 

The Social Democratic government made the announcement on Wednesday, and scrapped the controversial term 'ghetto' in its proposed legislation when referring to the country's 'disadvantaged neighbourhoods'.

In the bill - a review of existing legislation on combating parallel societies - the interior ministry proposed that the share of residents of 'non-Western' origin in each neighbourhood be limited to a maximum of 30 percent within 10 years.

Denmark has for years had one of Europe's most restrictive immigration policies, which Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has continued since coming to power in June 2019 amid growing opposition from the right.

Denmark has for years had one of Europe's most restrictive immigration policies, which Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (pictured on March 9) has continued since coming to power in June 2019

Denmark has for years had one of Europe's most restrictive immigration policies, which Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (pictured on March 9) has continued since coming to power in June 2019

According to Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek, too many non-Western foreigners in one area 'increases the risk of an emergence of religious and cultural parallel societies,' he said in a statement.

He said however that the term 'ghetto', used to designate disadvantaged neighbourhoods, would be removed from the new legislation.

'The term ghetto is misleading... I think it contributes to eclipsing the large amount of work that needs doing in these neighbourhoods,' he said.

Until now, the term was used legally to designate any neighbourhood of more than 1,000 people where more than half were of 'non-Western' origin, and which met at least two of four criteria.

The four criteria are: more than 40 percent of residents are unemployed; more than 60 percent of 39-50 year-olds do not have an upper secondary education; crime rates three times higher than the national average; residents have a gross income 55 percent lower than the regional average.

Fifteen Danish neighbourhoods currently fall into this category, and 25 others are considered 'at risk'. The list is updated each December.

In these neighbourhoods, misdemeanours carry double the legal penalties in place elsewhere, and daycare is mandatory for all children over the age of one or family allowances are withdrawn.

The existing legislation also calls for council homes in these areas to be reduced to 40 percent of available housing by 2030.

The bill will be discussed by Danish political parties and is expected to pass, though no date has been set for the vote.

According to Statistics Denmark, 11 percent of Denmark's 5.8 million inhabitants are of foreign origin, of whom 58 percent are from a country considered 'non-Western'. 

Earlier this month, Denmark became the first European nation to tell Syrian migrants they must return to their home country, saying it is now safe for them there.

Pictured: Migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, walk at the E45 freeway from Padborg, on the Danish-German border, heading north to try to get to Sweden on September 9, 2015 (file photo). Millions of migrants fled the middle east into Europe after conflict broke out in Syria

Pictured: Migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, walk at the E45 freeway from Padborg, on the Danish-German border, heading north to try to get to Sweden on September 9, 2015 (file photo). Millions of migrants fled the middle east into Europe after conflict broke out in Syria

The Scandinavian nation stripped 94 Syrian refugees of their residency permits after it determined Damascus and the surrounding area as being safe.

Migrants will be sent to deportation camps, but will not be forced to leave. But rights groups say the government is trying to give migrants no other option than to return to Syria on their own accord.

Mattias Tesfaye, Denmark's immigration minister, said last month that the country had been 'open and honest from the start' with refugees coming from Syria.

'We have made it clear to the Syrian refugees that their residence permit is temporary. It can be withdrawn if protection is no longer needed,' he said, according to The Daily Telegraph

His comments came as Denmark extended the parts on Syria considered safe for people to return, to include the southern Rif Dimashq Governorate. 

'We must give people protection for as long as it is needed. But when conditions in the home country improve, a former refugee should return home and re-establish a life there,' he said. 

Denmark's ruling centre-Left Social Democratic Party has taken a fierce anti-immigration stance in an effort to fend off challenges from parties on the Right.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has promised to target 'zero' asylum seekers applying for residence in the country.

17 March 2021

Do Not Send Back Myanmar Exiles


Mizo National Front Rajya Sabha MP K. Vanlalvena. File  

A Rajya Sabha member from the Mizo National Front (MNF) said on Tuesday that more than 300 people who have entered Mizoram from Myanmar fearing the military crackdown in that country include pregnant women and children.

K. Vanlalvena The Hindu that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was indulging in doublespeak as the Chief Minister had been assured recently that no one will be deported but on the other hand, the Ministry sent letter to the State governments of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram that people fleeing the coup should be identified and deported. The four States share a border with Myanmar.

The Tatmadaw, or Myanmar military, had taken over the country after a coup on February 1.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha during zero hour, Mr. Vanlalvena said, “Over 300 Myanmar nationals who have crossed border include 150 police personnel who favoured the (pro-democracy )protestors. The State government and NGOs have given immediate help and shelter to these refugees. Meanwhile MHA has given directions to not entertain Myanmar refugees.”

“It will not go down well with people in Mizoram if the central government insists on deporting them. Being the largest democracy in the world, it is the responsibility of India to encourage and support any struggle to protect and uphold democratic rights and principles. They are our brothers; sending them back to Myanmar will mean killing them,” the MP added.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Vanlalvena said, “Most of them have relatives in our State. There are 16 to 17 roads that connect Myanmar to India, there is a small river, it is very easy to cross over to India. There is no fencing. The Mizoram government has also sent a petition to the National Human Rights Commission. They are not here for good; they will be sent back once the situation is peaceful. MHA should provide food and amenities to the refugees,” he said.

He said the refugees from Myanmar belong to the Chin ethnic group comprising Lai, Tidim-Zomi, Lusei and Hualngo tribes — related to the dominant Mizos in the Northeast.

“The Chief Minister spoke to Home Minister Amit Shah and he was promised that no refugee will be deported to Myanmar. But he gave this assurance about those who have already entered and now MHA has sent a letter to send them back,” the MP said.

MHA in a letter dated March 10 to the four States said the State governments have no powers to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner” and India is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that “all foreign nationals (including asylum seekers)” are governed by the various of law.

“However, a standard operating procedure (SoP) was issued in 2011 by the Central Government and amended in 2019 which has to be followed by law enforcement agencies while dealing with foreign nationals who claim to be refugees,” the reply stated.

Almost 400 escapees

The Mizoram government has said 383 Myanmar nationals, including women and children have crossed over .

Mizoram’s Home Department officials told local journalists in State capital Aizawl that 297 of the asylum-seekers who entered five border districts have been verified while the remaining 86 are yet to be verified.

The unofficial number of Chin refugees is at least twice that of the official figure of 383.

“About 98% of the Myanmar nationals claim that they belong to the police force and fire service. They chose to leave the country rather than obey the military regime,” the local publications said, quotingd unnamed Home Department officials.

Six Mizoram districts – Hnahthial, Champhai, Lawngtlai, Saitual, Serchhip and Siaha – share a 404-km border with Myanmar’s Chin State.

Officials said only Saitual has not reported the entry of any refugee from Myanmar since the coup.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and the State’s MPs have preferred a humanitarian approach, offering them temporary shelter and food.

“The influx could not be prevented because much of the border is porous. They cannot be pushed back now because it is against humanitarian values,” officials in the State were quoted as saying.

Manipur Guv house grenade attack ordered by UNLF from Myanmar

The ministry of home affairs handed over the probe to the NIA last week after which the agency has registered a case under UAPA, explosive substances act as well as attempt to murder

By Neeraj Chauhan

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over probe into the grenade attack outside Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla’s official bungalow in Imphal in January this year after initial investigation revealed that it the attack was carried at the behest of Myanmar-based commanders of United National Liberation Front (UNLF), people familiar with the development said.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) handed over the probe to the NIA last week after which the agency has registered a case under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), explosive substances act as well as attempt to murder.

A Chinese made grenade was lobbed at the security personnel deployed at Raj Bhavan on January 19 around 4.30pm by two bike-borne suspects. Nobody was injured in the incident. Manipur police arrested three persons in the case – Lisham Iboshana Meitei alias Jojo, Konsam Manithoi Singh and Huidrom Sangba, all having links with the banned outfit UNLF.

The central intelligence agencies believe that the attack was planned in Myanmar after which the cadres were activated here in Imphal.

NIA officials familiar with the case said they will take custody of the three arrested UNLF members and ask them about those who gave them directions for the attack.

Even as Indian government is holding peace talks with most of the insurgent groups from the north-east, several commanders of outfits like UNLF have been hiding in Myanmar. UNLF chairperson Rajkumar Meghen was released from Guwahati Central Jail in November 2019 after serving a decade-long sentence.

The central anti-terror probe agency has investigated several cases related to north-east insurgent groups in the last 11 years and has secured conviction against several ultras.

As reported by HT on March 2, insurgency-related incidents in the northeastern (N-E) states have dipped by 80% and civilian deaths by 99% in 2020 compared to 2014, according to MHA data. The deaths of security forces’ personnel also came down by 75%.

Several officials and experts said that fewer insurgency-related incidents in the N-E was due to majority of insurgent groups, including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and its factions, having signed ceasefire agreements with the government. They added that regional diplomatic cooperation between India and neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar, have denied insurgents safe havens. Also, economic development in the region and movement of people to the mainland for job opportunities has resulted in the dip in violence.

Influencer Hitesha Chandranee Booked For Assaulting Zomato Worker Kamaraj

Model and makeup artist Hitesha Chandranee, who accused a Zomato delivery man of attacking her over alleged delayed service, was booked by the Bengaluru police on Monday.

Bengaluru: Influencer Hitesha Chandranee booked for assaulting Zomato worker Kamaraj

Kamaraj has alleged that Hitesha had hit him with a slipper and hurled abuses at him. (Photo: Instagram)

The Bengaluru police have booked model and influencer Hitesha Chandranee, who had accused a Zomato delivery person of hitting her, for assault.

An FIR has been filed against Hitesha Chandranee based on a complaint by the Zomato employee Kamaraj.

She has been accused of wrongful restraint, assault, intentional insult and criminal intimidation.

A video of Hitesha alleging that she had been assaulted by a Zomato employee over delayed delivery had gone viral on social media on March 9.

In the video, Hitesha Chandranee showed people her bleeding nose, claiming that Zomato delivery person Kamaraj had forcibly entered her home and hit her.

According to her, Kamaraj had gotten violent after he had delayed her food delivery and she had complained about it to Zomato customer care and asked him to take the order back.

An FIR was filed against Kamaraj for assaulting the Instagram model.

A day later, the delivery person Kamaraj, who was suspended by Zomato, shared his version of events. According to him, Hitesha had hit him with a slipper, hurled abuses at him and tried to punch him when she accidentally hurt herself.

Zomato, which had initially assured Hitesha Chandranee that it would help her with the police investigation along with assistance on the medical care required, later clarified it was also with Kamaraj extending all possible support.

"As per protocol, we have temporarily suspended Kamaraj from active deliveries, but are covering his earnings in the interim while there's an active police investigation," Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal said in a statement posted on Twitter.

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New Delhi is World's Most Polluted Capital


New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020, according to IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles known as PM2.5.

India was home to 35 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities, according to IQAir’s 2020 World Air Quality Report, which gathered data for 106 countries.

The findings were based on the country’s annual average of particulate matter PM2.5, airborne particles with less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can lead to deadly diseases, including cancer and cardiac problems.

In 2020, New Delhi’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 84.1, the study said, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 37.5 during the year, making it the 14th most polluted city in the world.

Air pollution caused an estimated 54,000 premature deaths in New Delhi in 2020, according to a recent study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and IQAir.

Despite an 11% reduction in the annual average of PM2.5 levels due to nationwide coronavirus lockdown curbs imposed last year, India emerged as the world’s third most polluted country after Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“Air pollution in India is still dangerously high,” the report said.

In 2020, South Asia endured some of the world’s worst air quality on record, it said.

Last year, Delhi’s 20 million residents, who breathed some of the cleanest air on record in summer months due to the lockdown curbs, battled toxic air in winter, following a sharp increase in farm fire incidents in the neighbouring state of Punjab.

As the burning of crop stubble peaked, Delhi’s PM2.5 levels averaged 144 micrograms per cubic metre in November and 157 micrograms per cubic metre in December, exceeding the World Health Organisation’s annual exposure guideline by more than 14 times, it said.

Alaska Republican Party Censures Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Vows To Primary Her


The Alaska Republican Party voted to censure Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and vowed to issue a primary challenge to her in 2022—coming after she voted to convict former President Donald Trump during February’s impeachment trial.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) arrives before the fifth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 13, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)

The state Republican Party said (pdf) it passed a resolution to censure—another term for a strong condemnation—Murkowski not only for her vote to convict Trump last month, but because she voted in favor of Democratic-led initiatives such as not placing limits on abortions, against the GOP-led repeal of Obamacare, and voted in favor of President Joe Biden’s pick for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, among others.

The aforementioned votes, the state Republican Party said, were “in conflict with the Alaska Republican Party platform.”

The Alaska Republican Party said it will now “recruit a Republican primary challenger to oppose and prohibit Senator Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary to the extent legally permissible.”

According to the GOP’s resolution, Murkowski also voted “present” rather than in support of the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and “repeatedly spoken critically of President Trump throughout his term in office.”

NRSC chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) has attempted to quell in-party fighting and said his committee will support incumbent senators for reelection in the 2022 midterms. That goes against what Trump proclaimed in his speech to conservative activists in Florida last month, where he promised to primary Murkowski, the six other Republican senators who convicted him, and all of the House members who voted with Democrats to impeach him.

Last week, Trump issued a statement saying he would pledge to campaign against her next year.

She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be—in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad senator,” the former president said.

The Epoch Times has contacted Murkowski’s office for comment.

In February, the Alaska senator said she would “vote again” to convict Trump if she were asked to do so.

“If the party is to censure me because they felt that I needed to support the party, they can make that statement, but I will make the statement again that my obligation is to support the Constitution that I have pledged to uphold, and I will do that, even if it means I have to oppose the direction of my state party,” Murkowski said, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Murkowski hasn’t said whether she would seek another term in office. Murkowski won her reelection with 44 percent of the vote in 2016 against Libertarian candidate Joe Miller, who netted 29 percent.

Other than Murkowski, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have been censured by Republicans in their home states following the impeachment vote. The Utah GOP said it will not censure Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), while Maine’s Republican Party has yet to meet on how to handle Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Both Collins and Romney also voted to convict.

*  *  *

It seems Murkowski may pay the price for her loyalty to the Democrats...

16 March 2021

Tense Peace In Mizoram – Analysis

By Giriraj Bhattacharjee*

In a letter dated March 12, 2021, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), asked Mizoram to take appropriate action, as per law, and maintain strict vigil at the borders to prevent a possible influx of people from Myanmar into India. The instructions also pertained to three other north-eastern States –Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh – that, together with Mizoram, share the 1,643-kilometre-long Indian international boundary with Myanmar.

The February 1, 2021, coup d’état by Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) followed by civilian protests and violence as a result of a crackdown have led to an influx of Myanmerse nationals into Mizoram.

Significantly, according to a March 6 report, the UMHA instructions come after the Deputy Commissioner of Falam District (Chin Province) of Myanmar, in a letter, officially requested her counterpart in the Champhai District of Mizoram for the return of eight Myanmerse Policemen who have fled to India. The letter noted,

In order to uphold friendly relations between the two neighbour countries, you are kindly requested to detain eight Myanmar police personnel who had arrived to (sic) Indian territories and hand-over to Myanmar.

Meanwhile, on March 8, Mizoram Chief Minister (CM) Zoramthanga observed,

As common-sense dictates, when there is a political problem in one country and when there is a fear for one’s life, if they cross over to the neighbouring countries, then normally they were not sent back.

Although official numbers regarding the influx are not publicly available, on March 8, 2021, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga put the number between 20 and 30. However, news reports based on State Police assessments put the number at 100 Myanmarese, mostly Policeman and their family members, having taken refuge in five Districts. Six Districts of the State – Champhai, Lawngtlai, Hnahthial, Saiha, Serchhip and Saitual – lie along the Indo- Myanmar boundary.

The plight of the kindred tribes in Myanmar (Chin, Hakha and Mara tribes) evoked compassion and anger in the State, and on February 3, 2021, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl, the apex student body in Mizoram, staged a sit-in protest in Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, to seek restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

Meanwhile, for the fifth consecutive year, Mizoram recorded no insurgency linked fatality in 2020. The last insurgency-linked fatality was reported on March 28, 2015, when three Policemen were killed in an ambush by militants of the Democratic faction of the Hmar People’s Convention (HPC-D) near Zokhawthiang in Aizawl District.

In fact, not a single violent incident of any type has been recorded since March 28, 2015. However, militants from neighbouring states use the State as a transit and safe haven, to evade Security Forces.

On March 12, 2021, Police arrested a leader of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT-Parimal Debbarma) faction, Parimal Debbarma, in Aizawl District.

On March 11, 2021, the Assam Rifles arrested Manipur-based Kuki National Army-India (KNA-I) ‘commander-in-chief’, Nehjang Haokip, in Aizawl District.

The prevailing and sustained peace, moreover, faces a challenge due to the rivalry between Mizo and non-Mizo communities, including Chakmas and Brus.

In Mizoram, Chakmas inhabited villages are located in Lawngtlai and Lunglei Districts. The Chakmas are the inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh who, according to Mizo civil society groups, illegally infiltrate across the international border. Mizoram has 318 kilometres of an international border with Bangladesh of which only 155.07 kilometres is covered with barbed wire fencing.

On February, 21, 2020, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana informed the State Assembly that Special Task Force committees had been formed at the District and Sub-divisional levels for detection, detention and deportation of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the three border districts of Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Mamit.

Earlier, on March 12, 2020, the then State’s Local Administration Department (LAD) Secretary, Rodney Ralte, stated that an exercise was being carried out since early February 2020, under the joint initiative of the Mizoram Home Department and LAD to detect foreigners. The Secretary also added that there are about 19 unauthorised villages inhabited by Chakma and Bru tribes across Mizoram, 13 in Lunglei District, three in Champhai, two in Mamit and one in Serchhip District. Ratel added,

Strong appeal from civil society groups and student bodies has prompted the State Government to carry out the foreigner detection drive. Genuine residents of Mizoram will be asked to return to their parent villages in the State and foreigners will be pushed back to their respective countries.

This is not the only time that such exercise has been initiated. In March 2019, the State Legislature passed the Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019, that sought to identify foreigners residing in the State, so as to prevent “usurpation” of benefits of developmental schemes by those who are not entitled. The Bill is pending with President Ram Nath Kovind for his assent.

The Brus are the inhabitants of Mizoram’s Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei Districts. The majority of Brus are from Mamit District, which borders Tripura. In Tripura, Brus – also known as Reangs – are the second largest tribe. Tribal rivalry exists in Mizoram due to the Mizo groups’ contention that Brus “are not indigenous to Mizoram.” Mistrust between the two tribal groups is the leading cause of delay in resolving the issue linked to the repatriation of more than 30,000 Brus from Tripura to Mizoram. These people were displaced from the Mizoram to Tripura in 1997 due to the ethnic violence that was sparked by the killing of a forest official in Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants on October 21, 1997. An agreement signed between the Union Government and the Mizoram Bru Refugees Displaced Forum on July 3, 2018, for the repatriation of the Bru tribals to Mizoram has not been implemented thus far.

On March 9, 2021, the Mizo Students’ Union (MSU) gheraoed the Office of the State Higher and Technical Education Department Directorate, to prevent the department Director, a ‘non-local’, Nazuk Kumar, a 2016 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who hails from Chandigarh, from attending office. MSU demanded the incumbent be replaced by a Mizo IAS officer. MSU president J. Lalmuanzuala declared, “We want a Mizo officer who understands the local ethos and interests of the students.” However, the protesters dispersed in the evening after they were given verbal assurance by the Government that Kumar would not attend office till her replacement too charge. The State Medical and Technical Entrance Examination (SMATEE) is conducted by the department.

The preference of a Mizo official over non-Mizos is linked to a similar protest in 2015. The MZP had staged a massive protest in 2015 after 38 Chakma students were given seats for medical and technical education under Category-I of SMATEE. In MZP’s view, these seats are exclusively for Mizos. A legal battle based on claims and counter claims followed, which was settled when the Gauhati High Court quashed the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2016, putting the “Zo-ethnic people” (Mizos) who are known as indigenous under Category-I and “non-Zo ethnic people” under Category-II.

The underlying ethnic tension between the Mizos and non-Mizos have led to occasional violent outbursts.

On January 14, 2020, an irate mob numbering about 800 staged a protest rally and vandalized more than 50 dwellings at Nghalimlui in the Lawngtlai District. The protest rally was reportedly against the murder of a Mizo youth, allegedly perpetrated by three Bru tribals. The incident was linked to an individual identified as A. Lalrawnliana, whose body was recovered from a Bru dominated area near Nghalimlui village in Lawngtlai District. He had been missing since January 4, 2020.

Predictably, the Union Home Ministry had mediated a solution by settling the displaced Brus in Tripura. On January 16, 2020, an agreement  was signed by representatives of the Brus, Tripura, Mizoram and the Union Government, in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, to resettle the Brus in Tripura.

Another issue is the interstate border dispute with Assam and Tripura. Both Mizoram and Tripura have reasserted their respective claims over Phuldungsei village in the Jampui Hill Range in the North Tripura District [Tripura] – Mamit District [Mizoram] area. On the Assam-Mizoram border, three points – Lailapur in Cachar District in Assam and Vairengte in the Kolasib District of Mizoram; Muolmawi (Baruatilla) in Karimganj District of Assam and Thinghlun village in the Mamit District in Mizoram; and Kachurtal (Zophai area) village in the Hailakandi District of Assam and Bairabi village in Kolasib District of Mizoram.

Further, the unfenced international borders with both Myanmar and Bangladesh remain a continuing concern. On September 28, 2020, the Border Security Force (BSF), in a special operation, recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition on the outskirts of Phuldungsei village in Mamit District along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The cache included 28 AK-series rifles along with 7,894 rounds of ammunition and 28 magazines.

Separately, an investigation by the Frontier Despatch, a Mizo investigative weekly, claimed that, between 2009 and 2019, the State Police and Excise and Narcotics Department (END) had registered a total of 33,592 drug and liquor abuse cases (Mizoram is a dry State with total prohibition). The END data for financial year 2020-21 (data till February 28) indicates that 436 persons were arrested in 336 cases under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, 1985.

Mizoram has remained relatively peaceful since the negotiated end to a 20-year insurgency in 1986, but the peace is sometimes challenged by inter-ethnic tension between dominant Mizos and the minor tribes. The amicable and just resolution of these differences is essential if enduring peace is to be established in the State. Constant vigil along the international boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh is another imperative, as is a resolution of inter-state boundary disputes.

*Giriraj Bhattacharjee
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management


Source: SATP.org