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Arunachal Pradesh: Takam Pario likely to become next CM, Ram Madhav says BJP MLAs support Pema Khandu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after suspending Pema Khandu, the Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) is likely to elect Takam Pario as the new Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh.The final statement is yet to come out after the PPA meeting.However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Ram Madhav said that around 12 BJP MLAs in Arunachal are lending support to the government led by suspended Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) leader Pema Khandu.”12 BJP MLAs in Arunachal strongly backing government led by Pema Khandu,” Ram Madhav to ANI.Takam Pario, Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) minister, is likely to be the next Arunachal Pradesh CM, said PPA President Kahfa Bengia.In a fast-paced development, PPA on Thursday late night suspended Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and five other party MLAs from the primary membership of the party temporarily with immediate effect for alleged anti-party activities.The five other MLAs are Jambey Tashi (Lumla), Passang Dorjee Sona (Mechuka), Chow Tewa Mein (Chowkham), Zingnu Namchom (Namsai) and Kamlung Mossang (Miao).PPA President Kahfa Bengia in an order stated that by virtue of the power vested in him by the Constitution of the party and the resolution adopted in the state executive committee meeting held on December 20, the MLAs are placed under suspension temporarily from the primary membership with immediate effect pending initiation of disciplinary proceedings.Bengia said prima facie he was satisfied with the proofs of their indulgence in gross “anti-party” activities.The order further stated that with the suspension, Khandu ceased to be the leader of the PPA Legislature Party.He directed the party MLAs and PPA functionaries not to attend any meeting called by Khandu and said that any members failing to comply with the order would have to face disciplinary action of the party.

India-Pakistan ties: 439 Indian fishermen to return to home in January

Mumbai: Despite a complete halt to bilateral talks between India and Pakistan, 439 Indian fishermen languishing in Pakistani jails will return home in two batches, a pressure group said on Friday.

The move would bring good cheer to the fishing community as the first batch is scheduled to be home on Christmas.

Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) spokesperson Jatin Desai said that while 220 fishermen would be back on Sunday, the remaining 219 would return on 5 January 2017.

“The release is important as there is no bilateral talks and there is complete pause on the dialogue,” he added.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Desai said the PIPFPD has even urged the Indian government to reciprocate by releasing Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian prisons.

Currently, there are 516 Indian fishermen nabbed and put in Karachi jails, while 80 Pakistani fisherfolk were put in prisons in Gujarat.

“The India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners (IPJCP), set up in 2008 must meet urgently,” Desai said pointing out that both countries must pursue a ‘No Arrest Policy’ as far as fishermen were concerned.

They should also release all the confiscated fishing boats as it was their only means of livelihood, he added.

The IPJCP used to meet regularly every six months, but did not meet since the BJP-led government assumed power, Desai said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:32 IST

Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag in China for talks with top PLA officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag began his four-day China visit during which he will hold talks with the top PLA leadership and visit key military installations to deepen bilateral cooperation and mutual trust.Gen Singh, who is accompanied by a high-level military delegation, is scheduled to meet a number of high-ranking dignitaries of Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and Central Military Commission (CMC) during his visit from November 21-24.CMC is the overall high command of the Chinese military and is headed by President Xi Jinping.”This visit is an opportunity to re-engage PLA in field of defence cooperation and build upon existing mutual cooperation and trust between the two nations,” a statement by the Indian Army said.The delegation will also be visiting military installations including Infantry Division and Army Air Defence Brigades, it said.The visit aims at engaging China on subjects of mutual concern and shared interest, which include terrorism, humanitarian assistance and peace keeping training, the Indian Army said.The visit comes amidst growing stronger economic and military ties between the Asian giants and follows high-level diplomatic and military exchanges between the two neighbours.The visit also coincides with a joint military exercise (Exercise Hand in Hand), between two armies which is underway in Pune and will be followed by the visit of General Zhao Zongqi, Commander, Western Theatre Command of PLA in the second week of next month.While issues relating to the Line of Actual Control continue to exist, the northern borders have remained calm.However, India is in the process of beefing up its borders with China through raising of a mountain brigade, deployment of modern artillery and tanks besides creating greater airfield infrastructure among others.

Back-door diplomacy efforts between India, Pakistan are on: Pakistani Senator Sherry Rehman

Pakistani Senator Sherry Rehman on Wednesday said there were reports that back-door diplomacy efforts have started between Pakistan and India to normalise relations between the two neighbouring countries.

The Pakistan Peoples Party leader was speaking to Geo News and said that Pakistan-India tensions could lead to instability in the world.

Sherry Rehman. Reuters

Sherry Rehman. Reuters

She said that both Pakistan and India are atomic powers and the region cannot afford a war. She added that Track-II diplomacy consists of mutual steps taken for the sake of peace by mutual friends and it does not take place at governmental level.

Rehman said that India should make the first move to ease the persisting tension.

“India following the Uri attack started taking aggressive measures,” Geo News quoted Rehman as saying.

She said that India should have investigation of the Uri attack on an international level.

Rehman said that India and Pakistan should solve their mutual disputes through political measures. She said that world powers are also trying to normalise India-Pak relations.

Following the attack on an army base in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers, Indian government stepped up its efforts to isolate Pakistan on the issue of exporting terror.

The two countries also criticised each other at the United Nations General Assembly session recently held in New York.

The Saarc Summit has also been postponed following India’s decision not to attend the conference which was earlier scheduled to take place on 9 and 10 November in Islamabad.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti asks PDP cadres to work towards normalising situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday called upon cadres of her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to work for creating an amicable atmosphere within the state that would sustain the efforts at reviving and building the peace and reconciliation process started in 2003.”Peace and reconciliation has been the core agenda of our party and the hostile atmosphere around the State will one day have to yield place to reason and reconciliation. The peace and reconciliation process which was started in 2003 had gained ground and shown results as the atmosphere within J&K was congenial for the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to take shape, Mehbooba, who is also PDP president, said. Mehbooba was addressing a meeting of senior PDP leaders, party Ministers, Members of Parliament, legislators and coordinators here.Expressing pain at the loss of precious human lives during the current unrest in Kashmir, the Chief Minister said she and her government are not looking out for a temporary truce but would focus on building an environment where such turbulences never visit the people again. She said while PDP and its alliance partner BJP are committed to the implementation of the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’, a congenial atmosphere needs to be created within and around the State for its effective implementation.Unfortunately we did not get any time to even start the implementation of Agenda of Alliance and some elements who thought that PDP is serious about the promises it made to the people, started making attempts from day one to create hurdles and ultimately found an encounter as the trigger to exploit the sentiments, she said. Mehbooba said the positive impact that the government under the leadership of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed made between 2002-2005, was the result of the combination of circumstances, important one being the readiness of Pakistan to enter into a dialogue process in response to the repeated peace overtures by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.This time, however, the initiatives by Prime Minister Narendra Modi were unfortunately responded to with negativity and even hostility by Pakistan, she said. “But I am confident that the way forward for everybody is through acceptance of ground realities and offering relief, hope and dignity to the people which could ultimately lead to permanent reconciliation, peace and resolution in the region”, Mehbooba said. She said PDP was founded in the immediate aftermath of Kargil war and it was this party that first raised the banner of good relations between the two countries, an agenda that was accepted by everyone in the following years.Our party will never compromise on the need for peace as it is our state and its people who are the main victim of hostilities in the region, she said. Asking the party ministers to increase accessibility and interaction with the people, Mehbooba said the current trouble should lead us to work with more zeal for the welfare of the people and revive the cadres of the party to act as emissaries of peace and development.While it is satisfying that the government has been able to ensure even in the face of difficulties and odds the supply of rations, power, water, gas, medicines and functioning of hospitals, education has received debilitating blow. She said the business and the industry have suffered a loss of thousands of crores and numerous people have been rendered jobless.Expressing confidence in the resilience of the people of Kashmir, Mehbooba said they have come out of many a crisis in the past and were trying to pick up the threads of life after the devastating floods of 2014 when the present turmoil cut short one of the best tourist seasons and revival of economic activities in the valley. She said her government will provide succour in the revival of economy but those who are out to damage the states interests and keep the pot boiling will have to change their mindset and methods so that the people do not suffer.Senior party leader and Member of Parliament Muzaffar Hussain Beigh said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is facing unprecedented challenges. We have full confidence in the abilities and leadership of Mehbooba Ji that she will lead the people out of this morass and quagmire. And I appeal every stakeholder to strengthen the hands of the Chief Minister so that a workable solution to our issues is realized, he said.Beigh said resolution of the Kashmir issue is a must to ensure sustainable peace and development in the state and the parties to the conflict have to realize this fact and work in a manner that will facilitate bonhomie and good neighbourly relations.

Decoding the rise and fall of DMDK’s Captain Vijayakanth

Before the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, all parties were hoping for an alliance with DMDK, despite them playing the guessing game. Vijayakanth, leader and founder of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) was considered to be the alternative force to DMK and AIADMK during the start of the campaign. However, the party was decimated when the results came in. People in the film fraternity entering politics in Tamil Nadu is not new. ‘Captain’ Vijayakanth also followed the strategy by strongly projecting himself as an alternative to the Dravidian parties and managed to strike a chord with the common man to some extent. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Popularity through films
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Vijayakanth’s DMDK loses status, actor resumes shooting In the ’80s, when Tamil cinema was ruled by Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, Vijayakanth, an ordinary man from Madurai, made a name for himself. He was widely accepted and then gained a huge fan following to boot. One of his movies Chinna Gounder, that ran for more than a year in rural Tamil Nadu, created a new genre in the Tamil film industry. Stars began to take up films where they played village leaders and brought justice to the community. Amman Kovil Kizhakale, Senthoora Poove, Vaidhegi Kaathirunthaal were some of the films that made Vijayakanth a common household name. Most of his movies revolved around honesty, corruption and keeping up promises. He earned the nickname ‘Captain’ after the stupendous success of his film Captain Prabhakaran in 1991. The audience was impressed by his ability to perform fight scenes without having a body double. Rise in the political sphere
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu elections 2016: All you needed to know about DMDK’s VijayakanthFrom acting, Vijayakanth made the transition easily into politics in 2005 when he set up the DMDK. Despite the strong opposition and pessimism from many netizens, his determination won him a strong a voter base in the state. In 2006, the DMDK garnered over 10% vote share in its debut election. In 2011, Vijayakanth contested from Rishivandhiyam and won with a huge margin of over 30,000 votes. He also went in for an alliance with the AIADMK and won 29 MLAs. But he ran into rough weather after eight of his MLAs joined the ruling party AIADMK. Captain’s ship sinksHowever, in the run-up to the 2016 elections, Vijayankath projected himself as the CM candidate and this caused issues in possible alliances with other parties. His fan club leaders, who were the reason for his strong party base in the state, also left the party over his decision to not ally with the DMK. Numerous MLAs walked out of his party to join the DMK while others started another party.Meanwhile, other factors like his explosive and unclear speeches which were hard to decipher caused problems. He also became a subject for online trolls who mocked his speech and unstable actions in public. He was also extensively criticised for getting drunk during public meetings. The people and other leaders started to lose faith in him. His wife was seen as trying to lead the party from behind-the-scenes in the assembly elections. A senior functionary in the party speaking anonymously stated that when Premalatha and LK Sudhish took centrestage, numerous party members started to lose trust. In the run up to the 2016 Assembly elections, the DMDK then went into an alliance with the Peoples Welfare Front (PWF) and drew a complete blank in all the 232 constituencies it contested. The DMDK’s vote share dwindled to 2.4% in 2016 and the party garnered a little over 10 lakh votes. Vijayakanth himself finished a distant third in his Ullundurpet constituency and also lost his deposit. Now, Captain’s party is on the verge of losing its status as a party. As of now, Vijayakanth is likely to go back to completing his pending films. Whether the Captain will return to politics in the future, remains to be seen.

JKLF opposes construction of army colonies in Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik has strongly objected to a government plan to construct colonies for army soldiers and officers in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.”Whether the soldier is a resident of Jammu and Kashmir or is a resident of India, we will not accept this colony on any grounds. Tomorrow, you will ask for land to build colonies for CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and BSF (Border Security Force). Already a lot of land has been given to the army,” Malik told media here on Friday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In April 2015, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, NN Vohra, approved the establishment of army colony in Srinagar and said that 21.6 acres of land had been identified for the colonies.However, under severe criticism, the state government has denied the allotment of land to army colonies.Malik also claimed that ?atrocities? on native Kashmiris have risen ever since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine came to power in the state last year.He also protested against the creation of separate settlements for Kashmiri Hindus in the state.

Deliberate attempt to destabilise Kashmir’s economy: PDP leader

Srinagar: With Kashmir witnessing fresh unrest, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday said there seems to be a deliberate and sinister attempt by vested interests to destabilise and subvert the local economy by fuelling violence.

PDP youth president Waheed Para, who was advisor to former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said all right-thinking people must close their ranks to prevent such vested interests from carrying out their nefarious designs.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

There seems to be a deliberate and sinister attempt by certain vested interests to keep the vicious cycle of violence going on in Kashmir and destabilise and subvert the local economy, he said in a statement.

“We as Kashmiris have to ponder over the pattern of similar violent incidents that have always take place in almost in an akin manner whenever a new government assumes office in the State and at the onset of the tourist season in Kashmir,” the PDP leader said.

Para has been at the centre of a controversy as he reportedly blamed the youth for attacking an army camp that led to death of one person and injuries to three others in Nathnusa area of Kupwara yesterday.

Para, however, denied the statement attributed to him.

“I only said that nothing could justify killing of civilians and we should expect justice to the families as the Army has already ordered a probe which needs to be taken to the logical conclusion to restore people’s confidence,” he said.

Para urged youth to maintain calm and not to get provoked into such actions which only lead to a vicious cycle of death and destruction.

“We have already lost a generation of our youth to the conflict and can’t afford another generation to fall prey to this vicious circle of violence,” he said.

Para said such tragic incidents only undermine the government’s efforts to restore peace in the State which has undergone a “gory era of death and destruction” for the past more than two decades.

Five persons were killed in the unrest that began on Tuesday following allegations of molestation of a girl in Handwara.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti to meet Rajnath Singh today

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled to take place at the MHA on Tuesday evening. This is the first meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief who took oath as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on April 4.Moreover, this is the first time Mehbooba is holding an administrative post in the state or at the national level, as so far she had limited herself to party work.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government formation has ended the three-month long political crisis in the state which started after the death of former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on January 7.The 2014 state elections threw up a hung assembly in which the PDP won 28 seats, mainly from the Kashmir Valley, and the BJP 25, almost all from the Jammu region, leading to a coalition government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.Mufti took the oath in Jammu along with 17 cabinet ministers and six ministers of state (MoS). Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Nirmal Singh also took oath as deputy chief minister, as per the alliance agreement between the two parties.

Mehbooba Mufti to be sworn-in as Jammu and Kashmir CM tomorrow

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in tomorrow as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, also becoming the first-ever Muslim woman CM, heading a coalition government with BJP in the only Muslim-majority state.LIVE England vs West Indies final T20, ICC World T20The 56-year-old leader, daughter of PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, will take oath of office at Raj Bhawan in Jammu tomorrow at 11.00 am. Mehbooba assuming office will be a landmark event in the history of Jammu and Kashmir as well as rest of the country. She will be the first woman to head a government in Jammu and Kashmir and the first Muslim woman to become the Chief Minister of a state in India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Governor NN Vohra yesterday invited the PDP president to form and lead the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state. “The Governor’s invitation to (Mehbooba) Mufti follows the earlier discussions with the PDP and BJP presidents regarding formation of government in the state and the subsequent communications received from her and Sat Sharma, president, J&K BJP in regard to this matter,” an official spokesman said.The PDP-BJP government can expect a smooth run if the two ideologically opposite parties can avoid controversies that dogged their first brush together with power when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed headed the government for 10 months till his death on January 7. The PDP-BJP coalition, which also has Sajad Gani Lone led Peoples’ Conference as a constituent, has 56 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly.The PDP has 27 members while BJP has 25. Peoples’ Conference has two MLAs while two other independents are supporting the coalition. The revival of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state — after three months of stalemate — became possible after several rounds of hectic negotiations between the two parties and apparent intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Following Sayeed’s death, Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state as the PDP and the BJP did not stake fresh claim for government formation in the state. Initially, the two parties maintained that Mehbooba was not in a position to take over the reins of the state as she was mourning her father’s death. However, after the mourning period was over, the PDP said it was looking for assurances and confidence building measures from the Centre on implementation of Agenda of Alliance — common minimum programme of the two parties — before forming the new government.Hopes of ending the deadlock were raised when BJP general secretary Ram Madhav arrived in Srinagar in a chartered plane to meet Mehbooba Mufti late in the evening on February 17 but nothing came out of the hour-long meeting.The next high level contact between the two parties came on March 19 when Mehbooba met BJP president Amit Shah. Again the two parties failed to resolve the issues, forcing the BJP to publicly admit for the first time that no headway could be made on government formation.In fact, several PDP leaders went to extent of saying the prospects of an alliance with the BJP were all but over. However, to everyone’s surprise, the PDP president went to meet the Prime Minister three days later.Mehbooba emerged from the meeting with the Prime Minister “satisfied”, which shall culminate tomorrow with her swearing in as the Chief Minister.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti hints at govt formation with BJP

After two-month suspense, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has said that she is not ‘stubborn’ and hinted that the party would be going ahead with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir if the latter ensures that aspirations of people were met.Speaking during a party function last evening, Mehbooba claimed that she was not afraid of criticism on the issue but wanted a signal from the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre that it will do everything for the welfare of people of the state. “I am not a stubborn person, if I feel that the Centre is working for the welfare of the state then surely the government will be formed,” she said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”However, if it is only for the sake of government formation, or to delay polls, or to provide some work to MLAs, let me make it clear that I am not ready,” she added.Mehbooba, whose party has 27 MLAs in the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, said if the promises are not fulfilled the formation of the government meant to keep away from the elections for five years.

Arunachal Pradesh crisis: Merger of 30 Congress MLAs with PPA is unconstitutional, says NabamTuki

Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki on Thursday termed the switch over of 30 Congress MLAs led by Chief Minister Kalikho Pul to the Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) as “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.”How can they do this when a five-bench constitutional bench of the Supreme Court is hearing the case and the judgement is being reserved? They don’t have the required quorum for defection as the Speaker had disqualified 14 members and the case has been referred by the Apex court to the Gauhati High Court directing it to dispose it within two weeks time, which will end on March 6 next,” Tuki told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Moreover, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee yesterday expelled two members Likha Saaya and Gojen Gadi… where is the quorum? All these activities are against the 10th schedule of the Constitution,” Tuki alleged.Unless the Supreme Court and the High Court decide the merit of the case, such a move is not possible, he said adding, “This is a subject for judicial review. Whatever verdict the court pronounces, we will abide by it.” He said the defected MLAs should respect the party and should respect the people of the state who voted them to power.Tuki said the party leadership had invited them for talk to resolve the issue, but they turned down and were now saying all doors were closed.”They have failed to abide by the Constitution and the judiciary,” Tuki alleged and appealed the people to stand together to fight such forces who were against the development of the state.Meanwhile, Congress MLA Bamang Felix, a close aide of Tuki, criticised the merger of the party’s MLAs with PPA and termed it unconstitutional and illegal.”We are expecting complete justice from the Supreme Court,” he added.

BJP’s point man meets Mehbooba Mufti to break logjam over government formation

Hectic parleys have started between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and BJP to break stalemate over the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.BJP’s point man Ram Madhav was rushed to Srinagar in a special plane on Wednesday evening to meet PDP president Mehbooba Mufti in a bid to resurrect the alliance that has hit the dead end after the demise of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both parties had kept the meeting confidential until former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah bare it all on the twitter tipping off the media about the `most kept secret’. “Unscheduled flight VTJSG just landed in Srinagar after normal operation hours. Something is cooking with the PDP-BJP government formation”, Omar tweeted.Ram straight away drove to Mehbooba’s Gupkar residence and held one hour meeting with her to discuss the government formation. Ram did not speak to media and rushed to the airport to fly back to Delhi in a special plane.Sources said Ram had come with a message from BJP top brass to re-stitch the alliance and reassure Mehbooba that the party is committed to agenda of alliance formed after two months of hectic negotiations last year which paved the way for first ever PDP-BJP government headed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.Mehbooba Mufti has been demanding certain Jammu and Kashmir-specific confidence building measures (CBMs) to be taken by the Modi government in order to create a positive environment that boosts confidence and trust.PDP has been demanding vacating of private lands from the occupation of the security forces, handing over the NHPC run power projects to state government, engaging separatists in talks and renegotiating the economic package to give more compensation to the flood hit people of the state.Even as the talks are on to break the stalemate, the PDP is gearing up for massive membership drive in the state. PDP is planning a grand workers convention in Srinagar on Sunday which will be presided over by Mehbooba”The convention will through open the membership drive in the state with an objective to expand the party base. All leaders exuded confidence that convention at Srinagar will give a desired flip to party activity and will take the party’s massage to gross roots,” said a PDP spokesman.

PDP says it is awaiting Delhi’s response over its demand for confidence building measures

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday said it is awaiting New Delhi’s reponse over its demand for CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) to be taken by the BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for paving way for early government formation.”We are clear on our side. They (Centre) have to do it. We have nothing to do”, PDP Spokesman Naeem Akhtar told PTI on Thursday night. Asked whether there was response from New Delhi, he said “no”. Meanwhile, Mehbooba on Thursday visited Jammu region’s party headquarters at Gandhi Nagar for the second consecutive day and met party leaders, activists and people. “She visited the Party office today met people there. She would also visit party office tomorrow and meet people”, Akhtar said on Thursday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehbooba visited the party headquarters here for the first time since Sayeed’s death on January 7. She kept away from speaking to media. On Wednesday, the party’s MLC and spokesman Firdos Tak said BJP will need to respond to issues raised by Mehbooba before any steps could be taken for coalition government formation. “She (Mehbooba Ji) has categorically stated that some CBMs need to taken by the Centre. BJP has sought time. It is they who will have to explain,” he said.”Both coalition partners have to sit and decide,” he said. On BJP leader Ram Madav’s statement there will be no condition for the formation of the government, Tak said, “there are no fresh conditions from PDP side. We want the implementation of the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ formed by both the coalition partners.”With regard to time-line for formation of the government, he said, “Until the CMBs are not initiated (by New Delhi), there can be no government formation. Mehbooba had asserted after meeting Governor N N Vohra on Wednesday that PDP “cannot move forward” in forming government with BJP unless the Centre takes “tangible” CBMs to address the causes of alienation and works towards a lasting solution to the state’s problems.BJP had asked the Governor for 10 days’ time to “resolve whatever is outstanding” with PDP.

Manipur encounter tells a different story: Deaf Centre silent as friendly fire engulfs northeastern state

By Seema Guha

Manipur police head constable Herojit Singh’s sudden admission that he shot dead an unarmed 22-year old member of the Peoples Liberation Front, one of the prominent insurgent groups of the state, is not surprising.

His admission is led by the belief that the police force he served is about to abandon him and leave him to his fate. Unlike the army, he does not have the protection of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which would have given him immunity from penal action.

Killing so-called “insurgents” with impunity was routine at one time in this sensitive border state. Those familiar with Manipur know that it has happened several times and may be happening even now.

Even those not familiar with Manipur are aware of the heroic fight put up by Irom Sharmila, a young Meite woman who has been on protest hunger strike for the last 15 years to force the authorities to lift the draconian AFSPA.

Shamefully, the world’s most populous democracy has turned a deaf ear to her plight. She continues to be force fed but no steps have been taken to ensure that this draconian law, which shelters soldiers from punishment for their misdeeds, is not revoked.

The template reply of officials to this sorry plight is: “It is the state government which has to take a call.”

Politicians down the years have used the excuse of Manipur’s position as an insurgency-prone frontier state to get successive Union governments in New Delhi to do pretty much what they want. It is not just the army, Assam Rifles and the CRPF, but also the state police commandoes who are heavily armed and trigger-happy. All this is done to ostensibly ‘keep the situation under control’.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Rape and murder by security forces also go unpunished. In a case which is being heard by the Supreme Court at the moment, a 15-year-old schoolgirl was reportedly raped by two army personnel of the 12th Grenadier on 4 October, 2004. The victim committed suicide the same day.

In another incident, a young mother was shot by CRPF personnel while putting her baby to sleep at home. The report said Amina was killed when a CRPF team, in pursuit of a man, entered Naorem village, surrounded her house and fired indiscriminately.

The Disturbed Areas Act as well as the AFSPA was imposed in Manipur in September 1980 when insurgency was at its peak. Though the threat has diminished considerably, the AFSPA continues to be in force and various gun-toting groups collecting taxes, threatening and intimidating people remain very much a part of this dysfunctional state.

Delhi turns a blind eye, happy the state is being “managed.”

Bad governance goes hand in hand with a militarist state. Successive chief ministers — most of them Congress politicians — have made insurgency the excuse for corruption and misrule.

But insurgency is just one of Manipur’s problems. The various ethnic groups in the state are also forever fighting each other but often forget tribal differences to unite against the Meities of the valley. It is a frontier area which is churning.

Fight for scarce resources

There is a deep divide between the Meiteis — often seen as the ‘plains people’ as they live in the valley — and the tribals inhabiting the hills. The majority of the Meiteis are Hindus. The tribals are mainly Christians.

Meiteis occupy just 10 per cent of the state while hill areas make up 90 per cent of Manipur’s geographical area. But 60 per cent of entire population lives in the valley.

The population density is low in the hill areas of Manipur where buying of land is prohibited by law.

This was done to protect the tribals. But in the valley, everyone can buy property.

There has been much concern in the valley that the Meite population is being inundated by outsiders and may in future have nowhere to go.

The Manipur government brought in three legislations last year to calm address their fears. The Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, the Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms and the Manipur Shop & Establishment Bills were passed by the legislature in September last year.

The Land Reforms Bill is perceived by tribal communities as an attempt by the Meiteis to gain access to scheduled hill districts.

The passing of these bills escalated the insecurities of the tribals. Apart from the division between the hills and plains, the different tribal communities — Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis, Zomis, Hmars — are fighting their own ethnic demons.

All these ethnic communities, however, are together when it comes to the xenophobia about “outsiders”: Nepalis, Bengali immigrants or people from any other state in the country.

Lack of development and fear that scarce resources will be taken away from locals is at the root of the problem.

But the problem of immigrants is confined mainly to the valley as special provisions of the law stop them from settling in tribal areas.

The passing of what the tribals see as laws to take away their right to land has led to continued protests. The demonstrations took an ugly turn last year in the hill areas of Churachandpur, where the homes of lawmakers were attacked. Nine persons including a 11-year old boy was killed in police firing. The bodies of those who died due to police firing have been kept since last September in the mortuary of the Churachandpur district hospital.

The tribals have refused to bury the dead until the centre and the state governments give them the assurance that the hill areas of Manipur will come under the 6th schedule of the Constitution, which ensures protection to the tribals.

States like Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland as well as the hill districts in Assam want to make sure that the laws passed by the Manipur Legislature last year is not applicable to the hill areas.

“If the tribal areas of Manipur come under the 6th schedule of the Constitution, we need not worry about whatever law is passed by the State assembly,” says Romeo Mhar, a social activist from Manipur.

“The Meite insurgent groups based in Myanmar have forced the Congress government to pass these legislations. All Meites are in this together, says Mhar. He and delegations from the hills have done the rounds of Delhi and appealed to the BJP as well as the Congress.

The bills, though passed in the Assembly, have not yet become law as they need to have Pranab Mukherjee’s consent.

“As soon as we get an assurance from the Centre that hill areas of Manipur will come under the 6th schedule we will bury the bodies. We don’t trust the Meities, if they don’t succeed now they will try again after a while. They are eyeing the land in the hill areas,” adds Hmar.

Indifference

Can anyone imagine such a state of affairs in any other state in India? This has continued since last September and the Centre has shut its eyes. If this had happened in any other state, there would be 24×7 coverage. The Meiteis have a point, so too the tribals. What Manipur needs is development.

It is important for all the state politicians, tribals and non tribals to sit together and solve the problem and the Centre should take the initiative.

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