Home Global Village Militant attacks rock India on Republic Day

Militant attacks rock India on Republic Day

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News Analysis |

Republic Day in India was relatively peaceful despite global protests and a shutdown in occupied Kashmir but it was marred in Assam by three low-intensity blasts in The insukia district and an indefinite curfew in Dima Hasao’ Maibang. The militants attack show that the idea of an Indian union is being opposed by many forces with violence still on the table.

The explosions, suspected to have been triggered by ULFA (Independent) insurgents, took place at two places in the district. Two blasts occurred within a gap of a few minutes in a drain near the Jagun police station, and the other at the Tirap colliery near the Ledo police station, police said.

Director General of Police Mukesh Sahay told reporters here that the explosions were of low-intensity and was carried out by ULFA (Independent) to prove its existence. There was no report of any casualty, police said.

In a search operation a .303 rifle, which was looted from the police, was recovered along with 100 rounds of ammunition, six powerful bombs, over 20 detonators, cordex wire and explosive-attached arrows.  

10 militant groups of the North Eastern region including ULFA-I, Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and National Democratic Front of Boroland (Songbijit), People’s Democratic Council of Karbilongri (PDCK), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), Hynniutrep National liberation Council (HNLC), National Liberation Front Twipra (NLFT) and CorCom of Manipur all called for the boycott of Republic Day celebrations and also called for a shut down in the region on Friday.

In Dima Hasao, the indefinite curfew in Maibang, which was clamped on Thursday after clashes between the police and a mob during a bandh, continued today. The bandh was extended by groups opposing the proposed inclusion of Dima Hasao in Greater Nagalim after two people, injured allegedly in police firing during the clashes, died today. “While one person died on the way to a hospital in Guwahati, the other succumbed at a hospital this morning,” a senior government official said.

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The deceased were identified as Mithun Dibragede and Prakanta Hakamosa. According to witnesses, the protest was peaceful till the Deputy Commissioner of Dima Hasao arrived at the site of the protest and ordered a baton charge without provocation. The incensed protesters retaliated by pelting stones. This was responded to by the use of lethal force by the police and security personnel killing two Dimasa brothers and injuring 13 others, including women.

Chakradharpur sub-divisional police officer Sakaldeo Ram said that a CPI (Maoists) squad led by its ‘area commander’ Jeevan Kandulana fired on police and CRPF personnel around 9.40am.

No warning was given, no blanks were fired as a warning. The police and security personnel fired directly into the crowd killing 2 and critically injuring many. That almost all the injuries are in the head or torso is indicative that they had shot to kill. This is in direct contrast to the treatment received by Karni Sena violent protestors across several states who went on rampages while police stood mute witness.

The reason for the protest is asserted to be the recent peace accord between New Delhi and Naga insurgents. When the NSCN (IM), one of the most powerful secessionist militant organisations in India’s North East, carrying on the struggle for a sovereign Nagaland came into a formal “ceasefire” with the Government of India in 1997, one of the biggest obstacles to the negotiation for peace was the demand of NSCN (IM) for a “Greater Nagalim” that would include Naga inhabited territorial areas of the neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh. While they were willing to ease off on the demand for the session, they were unwilling to let go of this demand for a “Greater Nagalim”. This is what dragged the negotiations on for 20 long years.

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In Assam, Dima Hasao was one of the districts NSCN (IM) had staked a territorial claim to be included in the “Greater Nagalim”. Almost on the eve of India’s Independence Day in August 2015, Modi suddenly announced a “historic breakthrough” in the Naga Peace Process to be formalized as the historic Naga Framework Agreement (NFA). Besides NSA Ajit Doval, Center’s interlocutor R.N. Ravi, and the top NSCN (IM) leadership, few, however, knew what the details of the agreement were. Even the Union Home Ministry was in the dark.

The Republic Day function at the Haflong, the district’s headquarters, was cut short after hoisting of the tricolour as there were hardly any people present. In Jharkhand, an encounter took place between security forces and Maoists in West Singhbhum district’s Porhat forest this morning.

It was hinted that although no territory of the neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh would be included in the new Naga territorial entity, there would be a mechanism which would create institutions allowing autonomy to Naga tribes living across the border in Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh.

This immediately caused grave anxiety among the people in the neighbouring states, particularly in areas where there were Naga populations.  In December 2017, there were again announcements from “sources” that the NFA would be formally announced on the eve of Christmas. But no official confirmation was made and Christmas came and went.

It was somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd week of January 2018 that newspapers and TV Channels in Assam/North East received a “draft” of the Naga Framework Agreement to be circulated/reported from a RSS functionary called Jagdamba Mall who claimed that he had been instrumental in shaping the NFA.

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It revealed that a total of 10 development authorities, 7 in Manipur, 2 in Arunachal Pradesh, and 1 in Assam would be created that would territorially coincide with the said Naga inhabited districts, but outside the proposed Nagalim. These would be like Naga Autonomous Councils with direct funding from the Central Government and are likely to bypass the State Governments of the states within which these councils would be set up.

While they were willing to ease off on the demand for the session, they were unwilling to let go of this demand for a “Greater Nagalim”. This is what dragged the negotiations on for 20 long years.

In Assam, the district that was named was Dima Hasao. Now the problem with such a structure would be that while these districts may be Naga inhabited, they are not ethnically homogeneous, with Nagas being the only resident tribe. In fact, Dima Hasao is largely inhabited by the Dimasas and a tenuous peace has come to the district after decades of insurgency in demand of a separate state by armed Dimasa Militants. A Dima Hasao Autonomous Council for the Dimasas exist in the district the Dimasas have politically considered their traditional homeland.

The Republic Day function at the Haflong, the district’s headquarters, was cut short after hoisting of the tricolour as there were hardly any people present. In Jharkhand, an encounter took place between security forces and Maoists in West Singhbhum district’s Porhat forest this morning.

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Chakradharpur sub-divisional police officer Sakaldeo Ram said that a CPI (Maoists) squad led by its ‘area commander’ Jeevan Kandulana fired on police and CRPF personnel around 9.40am. The personnel retaliated and the exchange of fire lasted for over half an hour, forcing the ultras to retreat, the officer said.

In a search operation a .303 rifle, which was looted from the police, was recovered along with 100 rounds of ammunition, six powerful bombs, over 20 detonators, cordex wire and explosive-attached arrows.  


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