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Flashback 2021: A look back at what made the news in Northeast

The year 2021 has been full of action when we speak in the context of the Northeast. From big developments in politics to key issues affecting the Northeast, the year

The year 2021 has been full of action when we speak in the context of the Northeast. From big developments in politics to key issues affecting the Northeast, the year 2021 has been witness to it all.

Apart from the key political developments like Himanta Biswa Sarma taking the reigns as the Chief Minister of Assam, Nagaland going opposition-less, or TMC’s political blitzkrieg in Tripura and Meghalaya, key issues like the resumption of Naga Peace Talks, alleged construction of Chinese village in Arunachal territory, the infamous Mon firing incident, and the cowardly attack on Assam Rifles personnel in Manipur are among the few that grabbed headlines in 2021. Northeast Live curates a few of them for you.

 

Nagaland: Mon Firing

Now if there was one incident that shocked the region and the entire nation it was the Mon firing that took place on the fateful day of December 4th 2021. The killing of 14 innocent civilians by security forces in an operation that went horribly wrong drew widespread condemnation not only in Nagaland but from across the region and country.
The anger against the incident led to a huge call all across demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act not only in Nagaland but across the region. The mood of the state has been such that the Nagaland Assembly had to pass a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to repeal AFSPA from the state. The Centre also formed a high-level committee to examine the demand for the removal of AFSPA in the state. However, despite all this, AFSPA was extended for a period of 6 months in Nagaland, once again leading to sharp reactions.  

Naga Peace Talks:

In another big development, the crucial Naga Peace Talks resumed in the year 2021 after a period of almost 2 years. The Naga Peace Talks had reached a stalemate after the NSCN-IM indicated that it was not in favour of continuing the talks with the former interlocutor and Governor RN Ravi. Hence, in a significant move, former Special Director of Intelligence Bureau or IB Akshaya Kumar Mishra was made the new interlocutor as RN Ravi moved to Tamil Nadu as the Governor. Mishra started fresh talks with the NSCN-IM and the NNPGs in September as the official dialogue process resumed.

It may be mentioned here that the peace process had reached a near deadlock over the issue of a separate flag and constitution. With the resumption of talks hopes ran high of a solution before Christmas. However, the issue of flag and constitution continues to linger the talks.

In all this, the NNPGs meanwhile have made clear that the official talks are over and that they are near-ready to sign the final agreement. Meanwhile, the Neiphiu Rio-led Nagaland Government also played a crucial role as a facilitator to Naga Peace Talks. The Core Committee on Naga Political Issue formed this year also held separate meetings with interlocutor Mishra, the NSCN-IM and the NNPGs. All in all, the Naga Peace Talks received a big push in the year 2021 and hopes have risen of a solution at the earliest.

Manipur Ambush

The year 2021 also witnessed bids to revive insurgency in Manipur. The most daring attack by the insurgents was in Churachandpur where 7 including the commandant of 46 Assam Rifles, his wife, son and 4 jawans were martyred. This was the first attack on family members of security forces and was condemned from all quarters. 6 jawans also sustained injuries in the attack. The PLA and little-known Manipur Naga People’s Front claimed responsibility for the attack. The gruesome and cowardly attack also brought back to focus the need to fence the border with Myanmar. 

Construction of Chinese village in Arunachal Pradesh

The frontier state of Arunachal was again in focus in 2021, this time for the alleged construction of a Chinese village in the state’s territory. Reports claimed that China constructed a new village in Arunachal consisting of over 60 homes. The annual report by the US Department on military and security developments also said in a report that China has built a village in a disputed area in the Arunachal Pradesh sector.

However, India’s Ministry of Defence maintained that all Chinese infrastructure was well within China’s side of LAC. Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu too clarified that there was no Chinese village constructed on Indian territory and informed that he had personally inquired about the development from the concerned authorities and that there has been no such development. However, that did not stop the opposition from targeting the government on national security. 

 Interstate Border Dispute: 

Inter-state border disputes were also in focus in the year 2021. The lingering border dispute between Assam Mizoram resurfaced once again resulting in a major clash this time. In July police forces of both states clashed near Vairengte village resulting in the death of 6 Assam police personnel and a civilian from Assam. The incident, along with subsequent economic blockade of NH 306 by locals of Lailapur in Assam, drew widespread criticism from various quarters. The escalating tension was however diffused after a series of talks between the two states following the Centre’s intervention. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga engaged in talks in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and agreed to maintain peace and amicably resolve the dispute.

However, the dispute with Mizoram aside, Assam made significant inroads in resolving inter-state boundary disputes with other NE states. For instance Assam and Meghalaya worked expeditiously to resolve the border dispute between two states. Active coordination between Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma ensured that regional committees were formed and six areas of differences taken up for resolution in the first phase. Assam and Arunachal Pradesh also worked in a coordinated manner in 2021 to resolve the border dispute.

War on Drugs:

The year 2021 also witnessed a coordinated battle against the drug menace. Assam and Manipur led the fight against the drug mafia with close to 400 people being arrested in Assam and near about 200 cases registered. Contraband items worth well over Rs 250 crore were seized from across the state as the Assam police looked to attack the drug trade at its base by sealing the routes used by peddlers.

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First Published: 1st January, 2022 0:29 IST

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