Nagaland’s map lost, Meghalaya opens Mosques for women: North East weekly Updates

Posted on September 15, 2008

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Nagaland

Readers would remember I mentioned some political factions by the name NSCN in last week’s roundup and I said I am not aware what they meant. Now I know what is it. NSCN stands for National Socialist Council of Nagaland. It looks like a secessionist organization but they claim they are not. This is the explanation they have given in their website.

“The Naga peoples resistance is one of the oldest struggles for self-determination against colonization in the region and yet it continues to be one of the least known peoples movement in the world.

A voluntary plebiscite was held in May 1951 to determine whether Nagas would join Indian Union, or live by themselves. The result was 99.9% in favor of independence. In persuance of their declared national decision, the Naga people launched Civil Disobedient Movement and sucessfully boycotted the General Elections of free India. Therefore, the Indo-Naga issue is neither a question of “Separation” nor “Secession” from India. Separation or Secession comes only when there is a union. Nagalim was and is never a part of India and as such, Naga independence is neither a question of separation nor secession from India.”

More on this freedom struggle here.

Interestingly the group has two rival sub groups one led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah (NSCN-IM), and the other faction headed by S.S. Khaplang (NSCN-K). The two group’s have been engaged in a bitter turf war for territorial supremacy in which around 500 cadres have been killed in the past four years.

Both group has occasionally also condemned the killings done by each other. I don’t understand what are they fighting for though. I understand the bit that they want to be a sovereign nation independent of India. But why are they fighting amongst themselves and killing their own people that I don’t know. Anyway it seems there is now going to be a historic reunion between these two groups. [Morung Express]

The two factions are also operating a ceasefire with New Delhi – the NSCN-IM is currently holding talks with the Indian government after entering into a truce in 1997.

The Khaplang faction of the NSCN is yet to begin formal peace talks although it entered into a ceasefire in 2001.

The peace attempt is being brokered by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation, the apex body of various civil society and rights groups in Nagaland, backed by the powerful Baptist Church in the state. Helping the Forum in its efforts are conflict resolution experts  from the Britain-based Religious Society of Friends, whose members are commonly known as Quakers, besides some members from the American Baptist Church. [Hindustan Times]

While these advancement are happening in Nagaland, in New Delhi the Indian Government officials have lost the track of what is Nagaland.

The government has lost all “original documents” — comprising details of boundaries — of Nagaland…The Union home ministry and the Assam government, which originally kept the records of Nagaland, do not even have the valid “map” of the state which ironically is in the throes of violence sparked by the demand to carve out Greater Nagaland by extending the existing boundaries of the state.[TOI]

Assam

Home Minister Shivraj Patil doing a lot of activity in Assam. First he did an ariel survey of the flood affected area. Then he announced a package of Rs 500 crore to deal with the flood situation in Assam.

The minister also announced adequate compensation by the Centre to the next of kin of the 35 people who lost their lives in floods this year. Patil admitted long-term comprehensive planning was required to ensure floods in the Brahmaputra did not create havoc and for this Rs 83,000 crore would be required.

He said, this amount can be provided by international financial institutions, besides the central government and this would help in improving irrigation, power, fishery and other sectors in both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.[Economic Times]

Don’t we all know how politicians, the ministers or even the ex-ministers always get such special VIP treatment wherever they go. Butformer Assam Minister Dipen Tanti got injured in the Delhi bomb blast at Karol Bagh and it didn’t even get mentioned. Not that just because he is an ex minister his life has any more or less value than the others but still, I find it a bit odd. [Hindu]

You talk about retaliation to terrorism but there is always another group which blames the security personnel of being too tough. It’s a vicious circle.

The death of a top leader of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Friday in a shoot-out with army soldiers in Assam has triggered angry reaction with pro-talks rebel leaders in a ceasefire mode accusing the security forces of killing him in a fake gun battle.

Army officials said Shasanka Baruah, a leader of the Bravo company of ULFA’s 28th battalion, one of the most potent striking units of the outfit, was killed in a gun battle in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district. [Economic Times]

Manipur, Mizoram

Both the states are affected by acute famine due to the deadly bamboo flowering (known as Mautam) in Mizoram. 265 villages in Manipur’s Churachandpur district, bordering Mizoram has been affected.

Mizoram, which was expecting the impending calamity, has been tackling it valiantly for the past year, but unprepared Churachandpur’s villages have lately been reduced to starvation. Around 16,000 acres of standing crop have been damaged, affecting over 1 lakh people, according to the district administration.

“Though the centre has sanctioned Rs  16.9 crore for relief, none of it has reached the district,” said K. Moi, Secretary, Zomi Economic Planning and Development

Unceasing rain and landslides have compounded the problem. “Parts of the district have been cut off from the rest of the county, and relief cannot reach,” said Moi.

The last such famine — and the callous neglect of the famine stricken — in the early 1960s sparked off insurgency in Mizoram, with the Mizo National Famine Front, originally an NGO working for the victims, transforming itself, in 1964, into the Mizo National Front (MNF) and demanding independence. The conflict ended 22 years later when the Rajiv Gandhi-Laldenga accord was signed in 1986.[Hindustan Times]

Besides famine Manipur also have the insurgency to tackle. And the Governement is in the process of modernising the police of Manipur to handle.

Under the modernisation of police, a total of 7003 arms have been allotted to the Manipur Police by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, MHA for the current fiscal year 2008-09. This despite the fact that a total of 1383 arms of different brands along with ammunitions and magazines are kept as reserved in the DG-pool of the state police department. Moreover, 5326 police personnel were recruited into the Manipur police in the last three years. This act of the central government has been done with a view to strengthen the state police under the Central funded modernisation of police force scheme.[Morung Express]

In another unique incident the two North-Eastern states are cutting boundaries. Around 7,000 Reang tribal children are caught in a refugee tussle between Mizoram and Tripura with an uncertain fate.

A cloud of uncertainty has been hovering above these children ever since 32,000 Reangs or Brus fled ethnic riots in Mizoram in 1997 and took shelter in adjoining Tripura. The Mizoram government’s refusal to accommodate most of these refugees in the electoral rolls — Assembly elections in the State are due in less than a year —has stonewalled Tripura’s repatriation efforts.

“Whether in Assam or Tripura, these children are being denied nutrition, immunization, proper sanitation, health facilities and education. We have asked the governments to appoint nodal officers to specifically look into the children’s woes,”said NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha. Most of the children, she added, were born in the refugee camps and are regarded as “nobody’s babies”.

Led by Sinha, a NCPCR team visited camps of displaced persons in Assam and Tripura from September 5. The Tripura trip followed complaints from the New Delhi-based Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Network that 7,000 refugee children were virtually starving after denial of ration cards. [Hindustan Times]

Tripura

Major industrial development expected in left ruled Tripura unless dear sister Mamata create another ruckus there. Congratulations to BHEL for winning the turnkey project in Tripura and all the best for its peaceful implementation.

Outbidding Alstom India in international competitive bidding (ICB), State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) on Tuesday announced that it had won a contract for setting up a combined cycle power plant (CCPP) in Tripura on a turnkey basis involving supply and commissioning of two fuel-efficient advanced-class Frame 9FA gas turbines.

The value of the contract is around Rs. 2,200 crore and the gas turbine-based CCPP is to be installed at Pallatana in Udaipur district of Tripura. The order has been placed on BHEL by ONGC Tripura Power Company Limited (OTPCL), a joint venture of ONGC, IL&FS and the Tripura Government. On commissioning, the project is expected to transform the power scenario of the entire North-Eastern region and act as a catalyst for its rapid economic development. [Hindu]

Meghalaya

Heartening gender development and religious broadminded-ness in Meghalaya. The Shillong Muslim Union has opened the doors of a mosque to the Muslim women. Now they can stand next to the men and do their friday prayers in the Idgah Masjid.

“In the tenet of Islam, it’s nowhere written that women cannot go to mosque, when we go to Haj, we used to pray together. The mother and sisters are the ones who can teach the new generation about Islam,” said Syedul, general secretary, Shillong Muslim Union.

Its one of the few mosques in the country to defy convention. Women already celebrating this change.

“This is my third Friday prayer today and it’s a wonderful feeling. I was looking forward to this day when I could enter the mosque and pray,” said Zulekha Hazarika.

“This is my third Friday prayer today and it’s a wonderful feeling. I was looking forward to this day when I could enter the mosque and offer my prayers,” he said.

The change couldn’t have come at a better time, the holy month of Ramzan.

“This is the first Ramzan that’s why were are very happy. Maybe we will face lot of criticism but nowhere in Quran or the Hadith it says that women can’t pray. This is first time in the Northeast and we are very happy that Meghalaya is taking the lead,” said S M Haque, president, Mahila Majlis.[NDTV]

Meghalaya’s economic future also seem to be bright with the Governement putting efforts to attract around Rs. 6000 crores of investment in private sectors like IT, IT-ES, horticulture, floriculture and education.

Top officials of the Meghlaya government are in Mumbai on a two-day visit to showcase the state’s future investment potential. On Thursday the officials held a seminar with 80 industrialists from different sectors.

Meghalaya currently attracts just around 9000 tourists annually with not many international tourists. However the state is hoping that with development of quality hotels and resorts in the state, tourist arrivals could grow three-fold.

It is looking at ways to improve its connectivity roadblocks. The current airport at Shillong will be expanded and land acquisition for the same has started. There are also plans to link Shillong with major state capitals of the country through the railway network. [Economic Times]

Arunachal Pradesh

Efforts going on in Arunachal Pradesh to increase traffic by establishing India’s first ever community biosphere.

Called the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ Arunachal Pradesh is known for its rich bio-diversity and natural beauty. And, to conserve nature’s gifts, the Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh has taken an initiative to create a community biosphere reserve here.

Claimed to be first of its kind in India, this community biosphere aims to preserve the tribe’s pristine environment and promote tourism in the State.

The initiative of the Adi tribe of Simong village has attracted Future Generation, an international NGO to assist them in creating a Community Biosphere Reserve.

Nalong Mize, a Board member of the Future Generations Arunachal, said: “Definitely, if eco tourism is there and if it is flourishing, there will be employment generation, the youth and everybody in meaningful activities which means that they will not deviate from other harmful detrimental activities.”

Omak Apang, a member of the Future Generations, said: “We have to get together and be ready for it. Get the people work together and get them self-employed and then request them to come and invest in Arunachal Pradesh. Otherwise our people have got entrepreneurial skills and they are enterprising too, so we have to explore all this business opportunities.”

Arunachal Pradesh is known not only for its rich bio diversity but as a centre of Buddhism as well. The 400-year-old Buddhist monastery in Tawang is thronged by hundreds of Buddhist followers and tourists from across the world.[ANI]

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