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Our troops did not enter Myanmar: India

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Guwahati: Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh (retd) on Wednesday said Indian troops operated along the India-Myanmar border and did not enter Myanmar to act against militants of NSCN-K and some other militant groups.

Those who went beyond the ‘official brief’ must be questioned, the former Indian Army chief told newsmen here.

He was here to attend an awareness meeting on MUDRA scheme.

“The statement of the Additional Director General of Military Operation was that there were operations along the India-Myanmar border. Some people in their ‘exuberance’ claimed that the Indian troops had operated inside Myanmar. Those who had gone beyond the briefs must be questioned.”

The Indian Army launched a massive operation against the militants along the India-Myanmar border on June 9, inflicting heavy causalities to rebel groups.

The operation was launched after the NSCN-Khaplang and some other militant outfits on June 4 attacked an army convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district and killed 18 soldiers and injured 11 others.

After the operation, some media organisations reported that the Indian Army had crossed over to the other side of international border with Myanmar and attacked the bases of militants in the neighbouring country.

Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had appreciated the “surgical strike inside Myanmar as a bold step taken by the Centre”.

VK Singh said relations between India and Myanmar have started improving.

“In fact, Myanmar is taking our concerns seriously and if everything goes well, close relationship between the two countries will open up new opportunities of trade and connectivity,” he said.

Meanwhile, he termed the ongoing agitation in Assam over the Centre’s decision to regularise the entry of minority communities from Bangladesh and Pakistan as a result of misconception.

“It is a total misconception. There should be no controversy. The notification issued by the Central government is a pan-India notification and it should not be taken into consideration in respect to one particular state,” he said.

With inputs from IANS

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NSCN-K declared terror outfit, talks unlikely

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New Delhi: More than a month after the government banned National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) for continuously attacking the Indian armed forces in violation of the 14-year-old ceasefire, the Naga extremist group was on Monday declared a terrorist outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“This is a clear indication that there is never going to be any talks with NSCN-K. They were given time to return and enter into a ceasefire, but they did not,” a home ministry official told IANS.

NSCN-K, after violating the ceasefire, had formed a new umbrella group named United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) with other northeast insurgent groups, which too has been declared a terror outfit.

“The government has declared the NSCN-K, all its formations and front organisations as a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,” said the statement issued by the home ministry.

Meanwhile, speaking on the issue, NSCN-IM, with whom the government has signed the historic Naga Accord, told IANS: “It was completely on the government on how to deal with the issue.”

NSCN-K was banned by the government in mid-September, a few days after the government announced a cash price of Rs.17 lakh for the capture of the commander-in-chief and the chief of the faction, Niki Sumi and S.S. Khaplang, respectively.

Meanwhile, a few of the rebel leaders who have parted ways from Khaplang over ideological conflict told IANS: “Khaplang is digging his own grave. He should have entered into negotiation with the government. If he wants to fight for the Naga cause, of course, he needs to have the peace process with the government.”

S.S. Khaplang is the head of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang faction while Sumi, a resident of Zhunehboto in Nagaland, is in charge of the armed wing of the group.

The latest development has come a day after four cadres of the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) faction were killed by Assam Rifles personnel, who apparently mistook them for NSCN-K cadres.

Following that, the armed forces have issued notice to every faction of NSCN observing ceasefire with the government not to roam around carrying arms.

However, if there was any such movement planned, the security forces need to be informed.

NSCN-K came into existence in 1988 and is active along the India-Myanmar border, according to a gazette notification issued on November 6.

NSCN-K has indulged in terrorism killing innocent civilians and security forces and engaged in other violent activities, including the June 4, 2015, attack on an army convoy in Chandel district of Manipur.

(IANS)

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Cabinet clears revised cost for Myanmar-northeast sea-road route

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New Delhi: The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the revised cost estimate for a multi-modal transit transport project passing through Myanmar that will provide an alternate access route to India’s northeastern states.

“The union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Wednesday gave its approval for the revised cost estimate of Rs 2,904.04 crore (about Rs 29 billion) for the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar,” an official statement said.

“The project will provide an alternate access route to the northeastern region of India and contribute towards the region’s economic development. Being a key connectivity project, it will promote economic, commercial and strategic links between India and Myanmar,” it added.

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project was jointly identified by India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar as well as to the northeastern part of India through Myanmar.

This project, which will connect Sittwe port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border, apart from opening up the sea route for the products, will also provide a strategic link to the northeast, according to the statement.

The project, when completed, will first link the Kolkata port to the port of Sittwe in Myanmar across the Bay of Bengal, a distance of 539 km.

From Sittwe, the route will continue over river Kaladan to the western Myanmarese town of Paletwa, 158 km away.

Paletwa will then be connected to the India-Myanmar border by a 110-km-long road.

The international border will then be connected by road to the town of Lawngtlai in Mizoram 100 km away where National Highway 54 passes by.

The project includes construction of an integrated port and inland water transport (IWT) terminal at Sittwe, development of a navigational channel along river Kaladan in Myanmar from Sittwe to Paletwa, and construction of a highway transshipment terminal at Paletwa.

This apart, the project also envisages construction of six IWT barges – each of 300 tonnes capacity – for transportation of cargo between Sittwe and Paletwa.

In 2009, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was appointed the project development consultant by the ministry of external affairs, the nodal agency for India. On the Myanmar side, the ministry of foreign affairs is the nodal agency.

Construction work at Sittwe in Myanmar started in December 2010 but problems arose over underestimation of the road length on the Myanmar side and plans to construct hydro-electric projects on tributaries of the Kaladan river.

Though the project was earlier scheduled to be completed in 2014, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said last year that it would now be completed by 2016.

When completed, the route will provide a viable alternative to the existing overstretched route via Siliguri in West Bengal, popularly known as the Chicken’s Neck.

(IANS)

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Nagaland school children forcibly recruited by NSCN-K

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By NewsGram News Desk

Kohima: Myanmar-based rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Khaplang (NSCN-K) has been recruiting school children here at gunpoint, an Assam Rifles official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“NSCN-K has been continuing with its drive to recruit school children at gunpoint, because the peace-loving citizens of Nagaland have refused to support any form of violence and are not willing to replenish the depleting strength of NSCN-K cadres,” Assam Rifles spokesman Shailesh said.

Fifteen young people from Nagaland’s Phek district were forcefully taken away by the cadres of Brig Kurichu, commander of NSCN-K’s Mobile-V Group, which operates between Phek district and Tsera (Myanmar) as part of their latest recruitment drive, the official said.

“The youngest student recruited is only fourteen years of age. These youths were taken to Tsera camp, from where they are sent to Ngiakching camp (Myanmar) for basic military training,” Shailesh alleged.

Shailesh said the recruitment drive of NSCN-K is in direct contravention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989.

He said Article 38 of this Convention requires state parties to prevent anyone under the age of 15 from taking direct part in hostilities and to refrain from recruiting anyone under the age of 15 years.

Moreover, he said such actions of NSCN-K are affecting the prospects of Naga kids as their Right to Education that is enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The rebel group led by Myanmar-based S.S. Khaplang had unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire with the central government in March, 14 years after signing the agreement.

The rebel group has carried out several attacks against security forces in Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, following the abrogation of the ceasefire.

(With inputs from IANS)