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Army fights pscychological battle with ULFA

The Army has adopted psychological methods to make an appeal to the cadres of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to shun violence and join the mainstream. As a part of this initiative, a large number of parents and family members of ULFA cadres, including those of some senior and important leaders of 28 Battalion, which is the main strike force of the rebel group, have made an emotional appeal to the militants in the three districts of upper Assam through interaction with media.

The latest of such meetings was organized at Sivasagar, where parents of over 30 ULFA cadres gathered to convey their feelings with outburst of emotions in the presence of a number of civil and military officers. A similar meeting was held at Dibrugarh, which led to surrender of seven terrorists at Laipuli (Tinsukia) on October 1. This initiative was replicated at Digboi (Tinsukia district) on October 4.

This psychological initiative of Dah division has begun to pay dividends and the surrender of self styled Lieutenant, Pranjal Saikia on Wednesday is a true testimony to the genuineness and sincerity of the army in bringing about peace in Assam. Saikia, a commander the ULFA's 28th battalion surrendered, at Dinjan, headquarters of the 2nd Mountain Division, Dibrugarh district.

The State Government is working out employment schemes and rehabilitation packages to encourage the cadres to surrender. At the initiative of Lt General BS Jaswal, General Officer commanding the Gajraj corps, the army is also proposing to conduct vocational training for those who have surrendered. Under the umbrella of operation Sadbhavana, the Dah Division, based in Dinjan, has undertaken numerous development projects and self-employment schemes to bring succour to the people in the remote regions of the state.

In tune with the clarion call given by BS Jaswal to the misguided youth to return to the mainstream, the Dah division has again appealed to the ULFA cadres to shun the path of violence and enjoy the fruits of freedom and bliss of living with their families without fear.

The division has announced that it will facilitate their rehabilitation and extend all possible help to them and their families in this regard.
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Border row - present tense future imperfect

1 Sep 2014 - 1:56pm | MS Pangtey

"You may be strong on legal and constitutional considerations, but we are strong on the ground and our claim is based on history and tradition" (When we mention that Dimapur was the capital of ancient Dimasa Koch Kingdom they draw blank).

This is how my counterpart from Nagaland closed his argument in Chumukdema commissioner level meeting in June 1985 in presence of IG Kharkwal and DIG Sagar. On return to Golaghat, we came to know the Assam-Nagaland border conflagration. The epicenter was Merapani.

Smokes were bellowing from the thatched houses, shops were left empty, cattle went off the cowsheds. Policemen could hardly escape. It took us half an hour to verify the ghastly scene and trail of depredations left behind by the marauders. That ominous word heard at Chumukdema came true so soon. Attack on Merapani came in a bizarre and surreptitious way when meeting was still underway.

Early next day Union minister of state for home Ramdulari Sinha accompanied by the then chief minister Hiteshwar Saikia and his Nagaland counterpart SC Jamir visited Merapani. Myself and DC Jorhat Chida Barua were present.

On seeing the butchered cattle heads at Merapani on roadside and drains, the union minister looked towards me and enquired "who has done this". Not Assam. The two words I could utter at that moment. But regained my confidence to speak out again pointing towards Nagaland "they have done when we were talking peace yesterday at Chumukdema". Nagaland chief minister got instantly infuriated and talked to Saikia. Suddenly, the strong exchange of words erupted between Saikia and Jamir. The situation took a normal turn only after Chida Barua managed to diffuse it.

Since 1963, when Nagaland became full fledged state, there has been simmering boundary row between the two states and at times scaling up to war like situation. This time around flare up started from a minor land dispute between a Naga 'owner' and Assam cultivator. In a charged atmosphere, however small incidents may be they had the potential to trigger major crisis. This has to be clearly understood by the local administration and they deal with it in the initial stage.

After each of the major incident, dialogues are organized in a routine fashion. Once again same hackneyed decisions are repeated. These include maintenance  of status-quo border meetings at different labels, activating neutral force, intensified patrolling, preventing crimes such as cattle lifting, forcible harvesting, theft, tax collection, kidnapping etc. government succor is distributed to affected families and slowly burnt villages start coming alive once again. Even in the face of ever lurking fear victims have no other option but to return and grow subsistence food for survival. After a tragedy, for a while things seem to be gearing for peace and normalcy as administrative functionaries become visible but soon slump and slackness overtakes as usual. In eighties there used to be regular Chief Secretary, Commissioner level meetings which helped in defusing many a flash points. This practice seems to be discontinued or become rare. This time around there is assurance that disputes would be resolved amicably and a joint mechanism set up for the purpose etc. However, if past experience be any indicator such assurances end up as homilies and do not touch even the fringe of real problems. Are we not deluding ourselves by not taking head on the real concerns? As long as Nagaland Police illegally man posts inside Assam and gun totting NSCN cadres remain in the area to extend protective shield to Naga encroachers, bilateral peace talks without laying stress on these basic issues would reduce to only status-quo centric. If this is not brought on the agenda of meetings, a clear message would go that this is no longer an issue and the Assam government has acquiesced to continued presence of Nagaland police and NSCN cadre in the troubled area.

There are also reports that Nagaland Govt’s activities are on the increase in the area.  On the other hand, presence of Assam forest department, the real custodian of troubled border land is not visible. It seems that their present role is limited to updating forest land coming under increasing encroachment. It is a sheer pity.

The effectiveness of the  Neutral Force has reaised no less doubt. In absence of clearly laid down SOP this force, it is alleged, prefers to remain just 'neutral'. In other words, neutrality to them means avoidance, inaction and non-interference. The Neutral Force does not have adequate mobility, manpower and other operational logistics although they are deployed in the troubled area for nearly three decades.

From the recent contradictory statements coming from the Centre and state, with regard to command and control of the neutral force, it is apparent that there is confusion which is rather funny. Without clearly spelling out operational role and accountability neutral force is, thus, a mere show of uniform not force.

Let there be a comprehensive state policy to deal with all the border row in an holistic manner under one nodal authority. Enough with adhocism and knee jerk reactions. Looking at the nature and magnitude of inter-state border problems faced by Assam it may be expedient that a separate dept is created which will ,with undivided attention ,strive to free the encroached border lands and provide much needed protection to the people. Also it would be in state's interest that a dedicated police force, say two Battalion strength under the control of proposed new dept. is raised by trimming extra flab out of 50,000 strong police force and strategically deployed . In the event of Assam government’s 1988 petition being heard by the Supreme Court ,in all probability a Commission may be ordered yet again. There will be dispute over who will head the Commission and it's terms of reference. If these can be resolved and Commission makes its report, it is likely that it would meet the same fate as many such reports in the past ie consigned to archives for posterity.

In view of uncompromising positions taken by the disputing neighboring states Central Govt's intervention has become absolutely necessary. Given the political will, resolution of Assam-Meghalaya boundary problem is not insurmountable. Langpi, Dispur sector and two blocks in Jaintia Hills are the main bone of contention. Meghalaya boundary in most sectors of Kamrup and Goalpara Districts is coterminous with the boundary of erstwhile United K&J Hills districts which, in turn, is formed with the jurisdiction of 32 Syiemships. But Syiemship jurisdictions themselves are not mapped and notified in many sectors. Further 1919, 1921 Survey of India maps and notifications describing the boundary in many areas of West Khasi Hills do not match.

These anomalies await rectification. As Assam and Meghalaya have traditionally good relations the stretches in adverse possession of either side can be exchanged with some ------ adjustment accepting the principle of give and take. Boundary with Arunachal is clearly defined and physical demarcation completed except in Likabali and Jonai sectors where operation was forcibly obstructed and stopped in the past. As regards to Nagaland nothing short of strong and binding directive from the Apex court will do. In absence of effective central intervention or courts order it is incumbent upon Assam government to assert it's legitimate constitutional right to free illegally occupied lands by the neighboring states.


The Sunday Show that was

25 Feb 2008 - 1:08am | Bg Gogoi

It was a swashbuckling show of rainbow culture that came alive to mesmerize the denizens of Delhi. More than 5,000 people who thronged at the lawns of India Gate on the chilly Sunday evening in the national capital were treated to a never before showcasing of the diverse cultural capital of North East. This was how the Assam Association, Delhi celebrated its diamond jubilee with a grand show of music and dances choreographed and presented with clockwork precision. Then the models with ethnic wear sashayed the stage, a treat words fail to describe and will have to be appreciated with own eyes.

Organized by the Assam Association, Delhi with the help of North East Television and Khatta Mitha brand of products, the brief but grand event was attended among others by Union Minister for DONER Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice Dr M K Sharma, and Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma, Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal, Mr. Tapir Gao, all MPs from the north eastern region.

Inauguration of Northeast Cultural Show
DoNER Minister Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar (middle) inaugurated the event.
General Secretary Dr Hareswar Deka towards left and President
Gr Capt. A. C Baruah on the right

Talking to Assam Times, the General Secretary of the association Dr Hareswar Deka said that the event was attended by over 5000 people of Delhi and the national capital region. The fashion show had 22 models to showcase the rich dresses from the seven sister states and Sikkim. What made every body spellbound was a model who was wearing a dress dating back to the Ahoms period of 1857. Other programmes includes Bihu from Assam, and bamboo dance (cherao) from Mizoram, Ojapali and Sattriya from Assam, Abutani from Arunachal, Bagobomba, Naga war dances, Martial art from Manipur.

Bihu was part of the event
Bihu was part of the event

The association has not forgotten the scope of Assam during its formative years, when many other states of the North Eastern Region were part of Assam. Association has organized the festival of North Eastern states' dance and music yesterday. A prestigious location like India gate Lawns has added flavour to the festival of the sister states. This festival is being organized to foster bonhomie and brotherhood among the sister states. The association believes that unity among diversity is the 'mantra' of our nationhood, and the initiative of binding the region with the mainstream has also to come from within.

After a glorious innings of 60 years in the national capital, Assam Association, Delhi- the common platform of the Delhite Assamese has taken up a series of programmes and activities to celebrate the Diamond jubilee in a befitting manner. The association is taking steps to make the celebrations a memorable one in tune with its relentless efforts of showcasing the diverse cultural heritage of Assam before the denizens of the national capital.


The jubilee was flagged off with a concert by Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his worthy sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan at the majestic Siri Fort Auditorium on 8th February' 08; the concert was aptly named as 'STRINGS OF PEACE'. The concert was sponsored primarily by ONGC Ltd. and co-sponsored by Oil India Ltd and Ansal Properties Ltd.

The association is organizing a series of lectures by prominent people to bring about an understanding of the region among media, intellectuals, policy makers, planners, bureaucrats, citizens etc. of the capital city. The first lecture in the series was delivered on 16th Feb'08 at USI auditorium located at Rao Tularam Marg by Lt. General (Retd) S K Sinha, Hon'ble Governor of J&K on the glorious history of Assam.

Pride of Assam, noted film maker Sri Jahnu Barua will speak about A United North East- My never ending dream in Deputy Speaker's Hall Constitution Club, Rafi Marg on 1st March, 08.

Famous TV commentator and writer Sir Mark Tully will deliver a lecture on Telling the North East Story: The conflict and the media on 8th March.

Famous historian Dr. Ramachandra Guha will deliver an eye opening lecture on History of independence as if the North East mattered on 29th March'08 at the Speaker's Hall Constitution Club, Rafi Marg.

An all India prize money essay entitled "Sankaradeva: a Saint-Poet-Artist-and Scholar' is being organized among college students to sensitise the youth about the great social reformer, saint, poet, playwright, guru and his tenets.

The Association is full of talents and a programme with local resources is being planned for 6th April'08 at Kamani Auditorium. 5 times President of the association and current Chief Minister of Assam Sri Tarun Gogoi will be joining the members during the programme. The winners of the Essay competition will be given away the awards on that day. Also an open session will be held and former Presidents and General Secretaries of the association, who toiled to make the association, what it is today will be felicitated publicly.

The grand finale will be held on the day of Rongali Bihu festival on 20th April. A bihu team will be invited from Sibsagar, Assam and the star attraction of the show will be Zubin Garg and Debojit Saha. The bihu team will also present bihu programmes before the students of a few select schools in Delhi. The venue is likely to be again India Gate lawns.

The celebrations are aimed at creating an everlasting impact in the minds of the Delhite for a long time to come and to create a positive image about Assam.

NHRC camp in Assam and Meghalaya from May 28

27 May 2012 - 1:01pm | editor

The National Human Rights Commission will dispatch a delegation to hold a three-day camp sitting in Assam and Meghalaya from May 28 to reach out to far-flung areas. Led by its chairman Justice (Retd) K G Balakrishnan, the camp will aims at disposing pending cases by hearing senior government officers, sensitise them about importance of human rights issues and compliance of NHRC recommendations, meet local NGOs and brief media for wider dissemination of information on human rights issues.

The first sitting will be held here for two days from May 28 and on May 30 at Shillong. Altogether 50 cases concerning of Assam will be considered for disposal and out of these 17 cases will be heard at the full Commission sitting chaired by Justice Balakrishnan. The rest of the cases would be taken up by two separate division benches.