Archive for November, 2010

Mizoram-Hmar Rebels To Talk in December

November 16, 2010

Hmar rebels in MizoramJoint monitoring group to oversee ceasefire rules

Aizawl, Nov 16 : The first formal peace talks between the Mizoram government and the Hmar People’s Conference (Democratic) rebels are likely to be held next month before Christmas.

The Mizoram government yesterday announced the suspension of operations against the dreaded outfit to give shape to the terms of the ceasefire signed on November 11 at Baungkawng in Aizawl.

The ceasefire was signed between Lalmalsawma, the home commissioner of Mizoram’s Congress government, and Lalropui, the chief of the army of the outfit.

Both sides said they would adhere to the ceasefire rules to “ensure the peace dialogues in the common interests of finding a solution to the Hmar issue”. This is the second time that the Mizoram government has signed a ceasefire with the Hmar rebels in 16 years.

In 1994, the Congress government in Mizoram had signed a ceasefire agreement with the first rebel outfit, the Hmar People’s Conference (HPC), which was led by Hmmingchhungnung. Around 375 cadres of the outfit surrendered to the authorities the same year in Aizawl.

The HPC (D) is a breakaway faction of the Hmar People’s Conference. It came to the fore in 1998 under the leadership of Lalhmingthanga.

The HPC (D) had rubbished the agreement between the Mizoram government as “blank and fruitless”.

The government and the outfit agreed to constitute a joint monitoring group to oversee the rules of the ceasefire.The outfit is an intra-state gang of rebels, which operates in Mizoram, Assam’s Cachar and North Cachar districts, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya.

The HPC (D) has staged ambushes on the police and security forces in Mizoram, Assam and Manipur during the past few years.

It has also been involved in kidnappings and extortions.

Intelligence sources in the Union home ministry said the outfit has nearly a 100 cadres, trained in the use of sophisticated firearms by the NSCN (I-M) in Dimapur.

The outfit’s main demand is the carving out of Hmar-inhabited lands under Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Assam and to bring these under the separate Hmar district council area according to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

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Manipur to Host Northeast Youth Festival

November 16, 2010

By Sobhapati Samom
 
Imphal, Nov 16 : Steps are on to organise the North East Youth Festival in Manipur’s Senapati district headquarters in mid-January next year.

The gala festival of youths will be held under the theme ‘Peace through culture and identity’, on January 18-19 next year. Dominic Chawang, convenor of the organising committee, announced this in a press conference at Hotel Classic in Imphal on Sunday.

“The main objective of the festival it to improve inter-societal amity and enhance cultural harmony amongst all the people of the Northeast through a cultural extravaganza showcasing the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the region thereby spreading the message of peace and brotherhood,” Chawang said.
Rewben Mashangva

The Northeast has been more than often been described as a ‘region of fear’ to the outside world.

But the organisers want to tell the outside world that “the region is a land of serenity as it radiates joy in its very being” through the forthcoming youth festival.

“The aim of our event is also to bring the youths of the region to a common platform so as to reason together collectively in enhancing the mission of brotherhood in the midst of differences”, he observed.

Highlighting the salient features of the mega event, the convenor said cultural programmes, including traditional dance competitions, talent search and beauty pageant will be held during the festival.

Food fest competitions, musical nites with noted Tangkhul folk singer Rewben Mashangva will be a feature of the festival.

Cavers Join Meghalaya Villagers against Lafarge Cement Plant

November 16, 2010

By Rahul Karmakar

meghalaya-caveGuwahati, Nov 16 : An organization of cavers has joined villagers in opposing French cement giant Lafarge’s plan to set up a Rs 1,000 crore plant in limestone-rich Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya. In a letter to environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday, the National Cave Research and Protection Organization

has sought outright rejection of Lafarge’s proposal. This, it argued, is not only because the proposed plant site is perilously close to two reserve forests – Narpuh and Saipung – set to become wildlife sanctuaries.

Some 500 hectares of land in Nongkhlieh village has been transferred to Lafarge India for the plant. Villagers are protesting this transfer, which they say was done “undemocratically and forcefully” by the Dolloi or local chieftain.

“The area already has eight cement plants within a 5 km radius. Obviously, the norms must have been flouted in setting up of these plants,” said the save-cave organization’s Raipur-based president Jayant Biswas. One more would add to air pollution and contamination of the groundwater system in the area, he feared.

But more importantly for the organization, Lafarge’s proposed site comes under one of the world’s most sensitive cave systems. “The Jaintia Hills system is considered the Mecca of cavers the world over. Some are listed among the longest and deepest caves on earth. We have already seen how over-extraction of limestone for a cement plant has led to the caving-in of the Mawmluh cave system (also in Meghalaya, near Cherrapunjee),” Biswas said in an email to HT.

Prior to the caving body’s plea to Ramesh, Nongkhlieh villagers had petitioned to Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma to cancel Lafarge’s application. “The land on which the plant is to come up is community land that includes besides forest paddy fields. Our land is as important as the air we breathe, and we will cease to exist without it,” the villagers’ petition read.

They also sniffed an underhand deal between Lafarge and the village chieftain and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council to “evict us from our ancestral land”.

Lafarge has refuted the charges, stating some locals were “killing the child (proposed plant) before it was born”.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

November 16, 2010

Like always the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show turned out to be a spectacular and colourful extravaganza complete with numerous new designs presented in the most innovative styles.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Adriana Lima gestures as she presents pieces from the Victoria’s Secret collection.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Karolina Kurkova waves a flag as she presents creations from the Victoria’s Secret collection.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Alessandra Ambrosio in a creation from Victoria’s Secret.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

A model flaunts her back as she walks the ramp.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Shannan Click holds aloft an umbrella as she presents a colourful ensemble.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Julia Stegner presents an exquisite outfit from the Victoria’s Secret collection.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Adriana Lima displays a two million dollar diamond encrusted bra.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Maryna Linchuk walks the ramp draped in a multitude of hues.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

A model gestures as she walks the ramp.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Alessandra Ambrosio takes the podium in a feathered outfit.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Gracie Carvalho presents innerwear from Victoria’s Secret.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Lily Donaldson looks stunning as she poses for the cameras.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Katy Perry performs during the show.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Magdalena Frackowiak presents stylish red lingerie from the collection.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Another song in another outfit! Katy Perry croons to the audience.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Karolina Kurkova flaunts peacock-feathered wings as she walks the ramp.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

A colour riot on stage as model Behati Prinsloo presents creations in a dramatic style.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Lindsay Ellingson takes the stage.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Flavia de Oliveira showcases exquisite lingerie from the collection.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Isabeli Fontana carries a barbell as she presents glossy lingerie from the collection.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Izabel Goulart walks the ramp in a captivating ensemble.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Model Liu Wen showcases checked lingerie.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Socialites Nicky and Paris Hilton attended the event.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

A picture of Katy Perry before the event began.

Source: India Syndicate
Image credits: AP

The Lovely and Talented Mila Kunis

November 16, 2010

 

Mila Kunis in ‘GQ’

Actress Mila Kunis is leaving her “That 70s Show” persona behind and taking the silver screen by storm. After films like “Extract” and “The Book of Eli,” the bubbly brunette appears in “Date Night” this month.

The potty-mouthed starlet gives “GQ” the scoop on “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” co-star Jason Segal’s… manhood, and more.
Mila Kunis in GQ

Mila in GQ

“I love a good d*ck joke,” Mila tells the magazine. “Fart jokes. Poop jokes. They’re hilarious. They never get old. But especially not a d*ck joke.”

Mila in GQ

In 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Ms. Kunis acted opposite a nude Jason Segel. “Look, I want it on the record, okay?” she says. “It’s a nice d*ck. Well proportioned. Handsome. I have nothing but good things to say about Jason Segel’s penis.”

Mila at The Book of Eli Premiere

Mila at ‘The Book of Eli’ Premiere

Mila poses at the premiere of her movie “The Book of Eli” in Hollywood on January 11, 2010.

Mizoram Police Blames Sex Tapes For Sexual Assault, Rape Incidents

November 15, 2010

By Rahul Karmakar

web_pornographyGuwahati, Nov 15 : Fairly permissive Mizoram had been wondering why ‘mainland malaise’ such as rape and pedophilia were stalking the highlanders. The police have found an answer – sex videos – after an influential students’ body blamed it on ‘sexy’ school dresses. Finding a pattern to rapes in Mizoram, the police in

this northeastern state discovered that most men caught on charges of rape were aged 40 years or above. And a majority of their victims were girls aged 10-15 years.

“Convicted rapists and others caught on charges of sexually assaulting young girls and minors confessed they watched sex videos before striking,” said Aizawl superintendent of police Lalbiakthanga Khaingte.

The study also revealed that 30.2% victims were in the 10-15 age group, 20.3% in the 5-10 age group and 18.3% aged between 15 and 20 years.

The findings followed a rally by the Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) last week to condemn the increasing rate of crimes against women in Mizoram. MHIP is Mizoram’s apex body of women.

“We have been seeking stringent laws to check rapes, murders and other crimes against women,” said MHIP president Lalthlamuani. “The most disturbing trend in Mizoram is the rape and murder of minors.”

A 5-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Aizawl on November 11. A similar case was reported elsewhere in the state on October 18.

According to the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) or Mizo Students’ Union, the government’s lethargy in implementing strict dress codes in educational institutions has been ‘encouraging’ sexual attacks.

Mizoram’s school education department had earlier this year formed the Committee on Indecent School Dress and Hairstyle after the MZP demanded a ban on underwear-showing low-slung trousers and micro mini skirts in schools and colleges.

“But the government is yet to issue orders to the schools to ensure a decent dress code,” MZP president Khraws Hmehova told HT from Aizawl on Monday. He added the MZP was mobilizing its units for implementing strict social codes aimed at checking involuntary sex and punishing men who cross the line.

Back to Mizoram

November 15, 2010

By Satyabrata Chakraborty

repatriating Bru to MizoramThe Mizoram government has finally started repatriating Bru (Reang) evacuees from Tripura but no one is sure when the process will be completed. The first batch of 51 families, comprising 251 men, women and children, left on 3 and 4 November. The Centre had set 31 October as the deadline.

The repatriation process had to cross many hurdles. The Mizoram government under Zoramthanga, a diehard Mizo nationalist and supporter of parochial ethnicity, ignored the Supreme Court’s directive and repeated appeals by the National Human Rights Commission to take back the evacuees.

Union home minister P Chidambaram’s recent visit to Aizawl and his talks with chief minister Lalthanhawla brought about a significant change in Aizawl’s stance.

When Lalthanhawla, known for his moderate approach to minority issues, returned to power in the last Assembly elections, hopes were raised that the repatriation process would get a boost but he, too, was bound by political  compulsions.

He said in Aizawl recently that he had appealed to the Bru evacuees not to leave Mizoram in October 1997. He also said that RSS leaders had accused him of burning 20 Hindu temples and that he was responsible for driving the Brus from the state.

According to him, the Brus were never Hindus but atheists who had converted to Christianity.

“We have set up 10 refugee camps and we are posting three senior officers and doctors in each of them. We are concerned about the wellbeing of the Bru minorities and we are ready to talk to them to find solutions to the problem.”

Bru refugee leaders want the Mizoram administration to take appropriate steps to  provide adequate security for minorities and their property.

During their absence from Mizoram, their property had allegedly been grabbed by locals. The refugees want their land and property restored.

What has complicated the repatriation process is the claim on the actual number of those who fled Mizoram in 1997. Aizawl has refused to accept the lists prepared separately by the Tripura North district administration and the Forum of Bru Evacuees.

At the  initial stage 13 years ago, following ethnic clashes in Mizoram, there were said to be as many as 50,000 refugees.

Since then, many have left on their own, a few have mingled with the local tribal population and some families crossed over to the Chittagong Hills Tracts of Bangladesh in search of jhum land.

About 38,000 evacuees are still in the camps but Aizawl claims that only 15,000 of them are the genuine citizens of Mizoram and that it is not responsible for the “aliens” living in the camps.

In an agreement between the Mizoram government and evacuee leaders, Aizawl promised to release Rs 80,000 for each of the displaced families for constructing houses.

They will be  given free rations for 12 months beginning November and there will be special development programs for them. Minority interests will be protected. Refugee leaders want a regrouping of their villages at a new location in Mamit district, something which the government has rejected.

Mizoram also has the problem of illegal migrants from Myanmar. They are ethnic Mizos, with the same features and share the same customs and religion. These people work as manual labourers at wages cheaper than that of locals. And they are slowly displacing locals from unskilled and manual jobs.

**The writer is Agartala-based Journalists

Dam Projects ~ The Bigger Picture

November 15, 2010

By Prasenjit Biswas

dam in arunachalThe recent protests over the National Hydel Power Corporation-run project in Gerukamukh, officially known as the Lower Subansiri Dam Project, highlighted the sordid portrayal of impending human disaster.

Following the report of the three-member expert committee appointed by the Assam government about the possible environmental impact of the Subanbsiri project, intellectuals, students, peasants and conscientious sections of Assamese society are up in arms against the ongoing construction at the Gerukamukh site.

In fact,  work has left much of North Lakhimpur’s paddy fields covered with downstream sand, rendering these uncultivable.

This sorry situation, at the very initial stage of construction, has only substantiated the possibility of a massive artificial change in the carrying capacity of the Brahmaputra’s tributaries that could affect cultivation, livelihood and aquatic life. The popular opinion is reflected in mobilisations by Akhil Gogoi, a firebrand youth leader – he is of peasant stock — who has become a darling of the people of Assam in recent times.

Sensing the mood, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi did some damage control by suggesting his government “will not allow any dam at the cost of lives of people”. The state Assembly also held a day-long discussion on the construction of an astounding 168 big river dams in Arunachal Pradesh. During the discussion, Congress leaders pointed out how the main Opposition party, the Asom Gana Parishad, had, during the NDA regime, helped make the Brahmaputra Board a defunct organisation.

The AGP government had in fact handed over responsibility of construction of the lower Subsansiri dam to the NHPC, which it is now criticising. Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sharma also pointed it out that the BJP, another Opposition party in Assam, had a dual standard as it supported the Narmada dam and demanded more dams in Uttarakhand.

In the Brahmaputra’s case, the BJP even supported a river inter-linking project during the Atal Behari Vajpayee regime, he said. Congress legislators even pointed out the dual role of the CPI(M), as Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar supported the construction of the Tipaimukh dam on the Barak river.

The Congress strategy of pointing out the double standards of parties like the AGP, CPI(M) and BJP served to silence the Opposition on big river dams, effectively robbing the combined Opposition of any electoral gain it hoped to achieve through anti-dam propaganda.

To add a further twist, Tarun Gogoi proposed that the Northeast Water Development Authority would concentrate on flood and erosion control, a greater share of electricity and royalty from the proposed Subansiri dam, a good compensation package and the setting up of another expert panel to study the environmental impact of the lower Subansiri dam.

Such proposals were aimed at dampening the growing public opinion against big river dams.

During the Assembly debate, the only legislator who made a clear mark was Bhuban Pegu, providing the necessary theoretical back-up to his opposition to big river dams. Outside the house, were voices like Ranoj Pegu and Akhil Gogoi, who justifiably highlighted the disastrous effect of the dams being constructed in Arunachal Pradesh.

One very important point raised by these activists was that there was no informed prior consent from the tribes and communities living upstream and downstream of the Subansiri river. These people had plied their agricultural trade for some centuries but they were seemingly ignored when it was decided to construct a dam.

To compound matters, there was no proper study of the geotectonic and seismic conditions that could affect such construction as much of the Northeast region is located in the sensitive zones IV and V of earthquake faultlines.

The Kopili dam that releases water to Nagaon district has already played havoc with farmers. In fact, Ranoj Pegu pointed out that as per the current estimate, the lower Subansiri dam would release very little water during the day but in the evening would discharge some 3,000 cubic metres every day, resulting in doom for the river basin and flooding the plains. The impact could disrupt the intricate socio-cultural linkages of indigenous communities.

The debate on stopping the construction of big dams in Arunachal Pradesh is partly responsible for the Assam government’s proposal to redesign the lower Subansiri dam so that it not only generates electricity but also helps control flooding and augments the riverine environment.

Such a moderated proposal only legitimises the construction that has already begun in Gerukamukh where the effect of cutting away hills and mining is evidenced in terms of the thick desertification of cultivable land in the northern side of the Brahmaputra.

The proposal for redesigning, therefore, may only reduce the height and the size of the reservoir, work on which is already in progress.

Moreover, the proposal does not include downstream impact assessment covering the entire course of the river, and informed public opinion is certainly not on the agenda. Substituting one panel of experts with another because the first went against the dam construction at Gerukamukh comes across, instead, as a sop for construction agencies.

Apart from lower Subansiri, the people of Assam are concerned about the future once Arunachal Pradesh goes ahead with constructing all its 168 dams. This concern will grow with each passing day and become the most important electoral issue in Assam’s ensuing Assembly elections.

The writer is an associate professor of philosophy at Nehu, Shillong

Mizoram Doing Wonders With Rural Job Scheme

November 15, 2010

By K. Balchand

MNREGS has given them the leeway to club a number of schemes

Primary importance is attached to construction of roads

Aizawl, Nov 15 : The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has been adopted as a community work by the well-knit, classless society in Mizoram.

Unlike in other States, people in Mizoram do not apply for jobs; it is the village council or local administration which sends out invitations to each household to send at least one job card holder to execute the work in their village or area.

The village council, an elected body, has been created under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and exercises control at the grassroots level. However, dissolution of some of these councils falling within the jurisdiction of the capital city of Aizawl is on the cards now with its transition towards governance through a municipal body. The first election to its 19 wards was held earlier in the week.
Mizoram National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

The proposal for dissolution of some of the councils is meeting opposition not because almost 40 per cent of the State’s population inhabit its capital but also because it plays a crucial role in the life of the small population of 10 lakh Mizos who are otherwise sparsely spread on the treacherous though beautiful terrain of this mountainous State.

In villages, however, the councils are evolving the development process with greater ingenuity, particularly after the introduction of MNREGS which has given them the leeway to club a number of schemes.

A case in point is Sakeiram—Tiger Land. Sakei means tiger in Mizo language and Ram stands for land as in the case of Mizoram–land of the Mizos. More than 700 men and women of all ages are collectively cutting a 6-km pathway in the mountains with the objective of setting up an altogether new locality in Serchhip district. The village council had issued a call and the job card holders responded as if they were taking up a community work. Of course, the wage rate is Rs.110 per person day.

It sure is a multipurpose road suggestive of a unique model of convergence of various schemes taken up with the idea of not only linking Thensal village with the main road but also to facilitate construction of an AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) hospital, ring in a new mode of agriculture and give a fillip to horticulture and floriculture.

Several programs are thus clubbed, but primary importance is attached to construction of roads. MGNREGS doubles up even with Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) as the hilly terrains are still inaccessible.

Horticulture and floriculture are among the schemes permitted under the MGNREGS to develop the land of BPL and Scheduled Tribes households. This is being used to wean them away from jhum cultivation which typifies the shifting cultivation.

To save ecology, the government last week launched a New Land Use Policy (NLUP) with the promise to provide at least two hectares to 1.2 lakh families over the next three years. The government also intends to provide help to develop their land for tilling purpose. With people living on the higher slopes of the mountain, water is a major problem despite several rivers crisscrossing the State. MGNREGS has come in handy for taking up water conservation schemes. It is being combined with other structures for setting up reservoirs.

Rape Cases On The Rise in Mizoram

November 15, 2010

stop rape in mizoramAizawl, Nov 15 : Mizoram has witnessed an increase in rape cases during the last few years, Aizawl Superintendent of Police Lalbiakthanga Khiangte said here today.

Police registered 66 cases of rape in 2007, while there were 70 rape victims in that year. Fifty-one rape cases and 56 rape victims were registered in 2008, which increased to 68 rape cases and 71 victims.

This year the police have registered 76 rape cases and the names of 69 victims, the police official said.

He was speaking at an observation of a ‘black day’ by the states apex women’s body Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl here to show its strong condemnation of the recent rape and murder of two five-year-old girls in Aizawl and a spurt in violence against women.

Explaining the difference between the number of rape cases and victims, Mr Khiangte said in some cases the same accused victimized more than one person while in some cases, a victim got raped by more than one persons.

The police official believed that it was possible that more cases of rape went unreported due to the parents and the victims fear of stigmatization.

Most of the rape victims were aged between 10 and 15, the police official said, constituting 30.2 per cent of the victims.

This was followed by 15-20 age group who accounted for 18.3 per cent. He said girls aged between 5 and 20 are the most vulnerable to rape.

The police official further revealed that in most cases, the accused and the victims were near or dear ones.

Stating that there is high incidence of child sexual abuse, the Aizawl SP stressed the importance of imparting sex education to children.