October 28, 2014   facebook twitter google plus email search
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CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx
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POLITICS IN THE NORTH EAST: SHIFTS IN THE 2014 LOK SABHA ELECTIONS
GARIMA SHARMA | 19 MAY, 2014

The paradox of the political significance gained by the northeastern region of the country in the general election politics hardly comes as a surprise. It has given rise to a sharp trend of polarisation, whereby –what has now come to be informally regarded as – systemic discrimination against people from the northeastern states, in various sectors, in different states, has coincided with attempts by major national parties to gain electoral leverage in the northeastern states, in the Lok Sabha elections.

Given the immediate pre-poll electoral calculus, this should hardly come as a surprise. However, the entrenched process of polarisation entailed with this process has impacted the electoral calculus of major national parties, determined by short-termism and opportunism, giving rise to widespread political fragmentation in the region.

From politics of identity to politics of issues

The politics in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has provided a substantive reinforcement of the political changes that have been occurring in the region for some time now. At the heart of these political changes lies a shift in voter preferences. From ethno-nationalist issues of identity that have always dynamised the construction of a separate 'northeastern' identity and its polarized relationship with the national government, to a prioritizing of issues of social and economic development –most notably issues of governance and accountability – in various states.

This shift has been documented by several factors in the changing politics of the northeast:

First, established regional parties that have managed to keep one or the other national parties alienated from the respective state have usually done so on the basis of the outside support given by a rival national player, and less on the basis of being able to act as an independent political counterweight. For example, Naga People's Front by utilizing outside support from BJP has managed to keep out the Congress for three terms in a row.

Second, there has been a marked decline in the power of the regional political parties which have been born out of and been the established champions of sub-national ethnic radicalism in recent times. For example, the last few state assembly elections showed the declining political fortunes of the Mizo National Front (MNF), a party which has been the champion of Mizo Nationalism since the 1960s, which managed to win only about 5 seats despite alliances.

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VIOLENCE THAT NEVER SEEMS TO END
NAMITA RAJESH AND BHAVYA RAJ JOSHI | 19 MAY, 2014

BACKGROUND: Past Violence

Assam has seen bloodbath many a times; a generation has grown old seeing these violence often. The violence can be traced back to the India-Pakistan war of 1971 followed by the creation of Bangladesh. The war led to complete turmoil in the formerly East Pakistan region, causing millions of people to take refuge in the eastern states of India. In the years that followed, illegal migration into eastern states, particularly Assam continued. This was irksome to the local population of Assam due to increase in competition for work, land and political power. Clashes often turned violent and led to widespread instability in the region.

The most notable of such violent instances in Assam is the Nellie massacre which took place after the controversial 1983 state elections. There have also been bouts of violence in Assam between the indigenous Bodo people and the Bengali-speaking Muslims. For instance the October 1993 clash between the Bodos and the Muslim migrants that left 50 dead in the state's western district of Bongaigaon. Followed by July 1994 violence, again between the two, in Barpeta district in which an estimated 100 people (including many Muslims who had been sheltering in a relief camp in Bansbari town) were killed. In May 1996, more than 200 people were killed and over 2,00,000 displaced in widespread clashes between Bodos and Santhals in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts. In a similar clash between the two, more than 50 people were killed between May and September 1998. During clashes in the districts of Udalguri and Darrang, from August to October 2008, 70 people were killed.

On 20 July 2012, violence broke out with renewed riots in the Kokrajhar district which quickly spread to the neighbouring Chirang and Dhubri districts killing as many as 40 people. Subsequently, units of the Indian Army were deployed to stabilise the region, and the decision was widely criticised and many blamed it on the Centre's ineffectiveness. On 7 August 2012, the Government of India ordered CBI probe of the matter. On 19 September 2012, the CBI carried out arrests; five youths were first arrested in connection with alleged lynching of four former Bodo youths in the Kokrajhar area. There were repercussions of this violence in many other parts of India, most prominently in Mumbai. Other parts of the country also saw attacks against people from North-eastern states of India which was a cause for unrest. Violence has since persisted and many renewed instances of bloodshed and rioting have been witnessed in 2014. Bodoland has become home to one of the highest number of internally-displaced people.

Current Scenario

The Assembly elections have been a major cause for sparking tensions in the state. Issues of communal disharmony and identity crises have taken centre stage, and political parties have been quick to take to the blame game. While the BJP are widely considered to have anti-Muslim, upper caste Hindu agendas, the Congress has also managed to garner widespread disapproval because of their inability to curb violence in the region over their decade long stint at the Centre.

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ASSAM VIOLENCE

BACKGROUND: Past Violence

There has been a long standing dispute and violence in Assam primarily between the indigenous Bodo people and the Bengali-speaking Muslims. The dispute can be traced back to the India-Pakistan war of 1971 followed by the creation of Bangladesh. The war led to complete turmoil in the formerly East Pakistan region, causing millions of people to take refuge in the eastern states of India. In the years that followed, illegal migration into eastern states, particularly Assam continued. This was irksome to the local population of Assam due to increase in competition for work, land and political power. Clashes often turned violent and led to widespread instability in the region.

The most notable of such violent instances in Assam is the Nellie massacre which took place after the controversial 1983 state elections. Other incidents include 1993 October clash between the Bodos and the Muslim migrants that left 50 dead in the state's western district of Bongaigaon. The July 1994 violence, again between the two, in Barpeta district killed an estimated 100 people (including many Muslims who had been sheltering in a relief camp in Bansbari town). In May 1996, more than 200 people were killed and over 2,00,000 displaced in widespread clashes between Bodos and Santhals in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts. In a similar clash between the two, more than 50 people were killed between May and September 1998. During clashes in the districts of Udalguri and Darrang, from August to October 2008, 70 people were killed.

On 20 July 2012, violence broke out with renewed riots in the Kokrajhar district which quickly spread to the neighbouring Chirang and Dhubri districts killing as many as 40 people. Subsequently, units of the Indian Army were deployed to stabilise the region, and the decision was widely criticised and many blamed it on the Centre's ineffectiveness. On 7 August 2012, the Government of India ordered CBI probe of the matter. On 19 September 2012, the CBI carried out arrests; five youths were first arrested in connection with alleged lynching of four former Bodo youths in the Kokrajhar area. There were repercussions of this violence in many other parts of India, most prominently in Mumbai. Other parts of the country also saw attacks against people from North-eastern states of India which was a cause for unrest. Violence has since persisted and many renewed instances of bloodshed and rioting have been witnessed in 2014. Bodoland has become home to one of the highest number of internally-displaced people.

Current Scenario

The Assembly elections have been a major cause for sparking tensions in the state. Issues of communal disharmony and identity crises have taken centre stage, and political parties have been quick to take to the blame game. While the BJP are widely considered to have anti-Muslim, upper caste Hindu agendas, the Congress has also managed to garner widespread disapproval because of their inability to curb violence in the region over their decade long stint at the Centre.

Since the start of the elections, several cases have been reported which paint a grim picture of the situation in the state. On 2 May, suspected tribal rebels shot dead 22 Muslim settlers, including two women. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed and soldiers were deployed in the affected parts of Assam. On 3 May, security forces found bodies of nine Muslims, six of them women and children, raising the death toll to 31. The police have blamed the Bodo tribesmen for attacking Muslim settlers as punishment for opposing their candidate in the Lok Sabha. On 5 May, the death toll was reported to have risen to 34. The brunt of the killings was in the village of Narayanguri on the banks of the river Beki and the fringes of the Manas national park (a UNESCO world heritage site), where masked gunmen burnt dozens of houses and shot more than 20 men, women and children. Villagers there insist that more people are missing.

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INCHING CLOSER TO A COLD WAR?
- BHAVYA RAJ JOSHI AND NAMITA RAJESH | 6 MAY, 2014

The snowballing Ukrainian crisis threatens to be a game-changing global event that no major power in the world, can afford to ignore. The fast-paced unfolding events in Ukraine have the potential to revive yet another Cold War era between the familiar adversaries – the United States and Russia. For the first time since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, Washington and Moscow are locked in a face-off with serious military implications. What is happening in Ukraine today leaves none in doubt that it may well trigger a high stake military conflict, involving the Americans and the Russians and reviving the Cold War. What remains to be seen though is who will be the Russian and NATO allies on the issue of Ukraine?

Background

Ukraine became an independent nation in1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  At this time, the Crimean Peninsula, a major landmass on the northern coast of the Black Sea, was declared as “The Autonomous Republic of Crimea”. Despite the status of autonomy, Crimea, which had a 75% ethnic Russian population, was to be a part of Ukraine.  In 1994, the legal status of Crimea as part of Ukraine was backed by Russia, who pledged to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine in a memorandum signed in 1994, also signed by the US and the UK.  The constitution of Ukraine, ratified in 1996, recognised the status of Crimea as an “Autonomous Republic”, but reiterated that it was an “inseparable constituent part of Ukraine”.

Since independence, Ukraine has been an area of overlapping influences, from the EU and Russia. This has led to a division in public opinion, with Eastern-Ukraine being "pro-Russia", and Western Ukraine being "pro-European". The Orange Revolution of 2004 marked the beginning of ongoing political turmoil in the region. Many factors contribute to the difference in opinions between the two factions in Ukraine, the pricing of natural gas being chief amongst them.

Build-up to the Ukrainian Crisis

The fundamental issue that forms the basis for unrest is the "Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement" (AA), and Ukraine's response to it. The AA aims at the development of EU-Ukraine contractual relations, aiming at political association and economic integration and paving the way for further progressive developments. It calls for strengthening of political dialogue and cooperation between the two entities, cooperation on migration, asylum and border management, and most importantly, trade and economic cooperation.

It seemed that Ukraine was all set to sign the Agreement with the EU, going so far as to push a bunch of laws through parliament aimed at helping it meet the 28-member bloc's expectations. Despite Ukraine's outward readiness at assuming closer ties with the European Union, it was faced with several dilemmas that prompted President Yanukovich to re-consider Ukraine's stance on the matter. One major factor was Europe's demand to free convicted former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko. Another factor was pressure from the Russian government against signing the Agreement. A key incident that added to said pressure was when the Russian Custom Service stopped all goods coming in from Ukraine in August 2013. It was apparent that obstructions to trade with Russia would have severe impact on the Ukrainian economy. In addition to this, Russia's willingness to offer $15 billion as loan along with cheaper gas prices to meet Ukraine's request for $20 billion in aid proved more appealing, compared to the EU's offer of $ 838 million in exchange for several reforms in Ukrainian laws and regulations.

The Ukrainian government's decision to suspend signing of the EU Agreement in order to move towards closer ties with Russia sparked a wave of demonstrations across the country. The movement soon came to be dubbed as "Euromaidan", and was largely fuelled by perceptions of widespread government corruption, abuse of power, and violation of human rights in Ukraine.

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TELANGANA: ISSUES IN POLITICS AND DEVELOPMENT
GARIMA SHARMA | 7 APRIL, 2014

The resolution of the Telangana 'issue' may appear to have finally been precipitated after a long history of political struggle and machinations by a diverse set of actors, but the central question that this resolution gives rise to has always been deeply intertwined with the political process that pronounced the denouement of this issue, indicating the necessity of resolving structural questions for this new-found precarious balance to survive.

Undoing history:

The historical background to the Telangana issue suggests that despite the breaks in the movement for the demand of separate statehood for Telangana, the rationale behind the movement has remained largely consistent ever since the creation of a unified state by the States Reorganization Commission of 1953. The unified state of Andhra Pradesh, by integration with Telangana, was created in 1956. While the people of Andhra were in favour of such a union, due to economic benefits and the fact that both were Telugu-speaking areas, the people of Telangana have consistently expressed opposition to this overriding linguistic principle of formation of the new state. Even Jawaharlal Nehru saw this kind of a union as a form of implicit imperialism, which may work to the disadvantage of the Telangana region, marked, as it was, by an attempt to homogenise diverse cultures, histories and social conditions and needs.

Subsequently, the creation of the state saw the rise of the Telangana 'movement', which has been subdued and active at several moments in history, with several attempts to resist and undo integration with the Andhra region. It arose with vehemence during the late 1960s and the early 70s, and was defined by widespread anti-Congress sentiment. It was subsequently accommodated by Indira Gandhi's political arm-twisting with the electorally-significant political parties in the state. However, due to a number of complex structural changes, the revival of the issue in 2009 could no longer be effectively accommodated through similar mechanisms in the long-run.

Dates

Events

3 October 2013

Cabinet approves creation of Telangana

5 October 2013

Cabinet approves draft Telangana bill

18 February 2014

Bill passed by Lok Sabha

20 February 2014

Bill passed by Rajya Sabha

1 March 2014

President's assent to the bill

2 June 2014

Telangana will be a separate state

In the Government Act, majority of those who will select Lokpal will be from the political class, who themselves will need to be investigated by the Lokpal. Therefore, in the draft Jan Lokpal bill, the Lokpal shall be appointed by a seven-member committee, consisting of two Supreme Court judges, two High Court judges, one nominee of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Central Vigilance Commissioner, Central Election Commissioner, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.

A different kind of mobilisation discourse

These structural issues arise at two levels:

First, they are deeply interlinked with the post-Independence social and cultural past, underpinning the differentiated political strategies that ultimately determined the mode of engagement, via accommodation, with the politics of Andhra Pradesh. In many such cases, leading scholars would point to the dominant mode of politically expedient accommodation of cultural tensions by the government at the Centre, through the formation of gainful electoral alliances with radical state parties which controlled the political mobilisation in the state. This is the manner in which Indira Gandhi is recognised to have dealt with the Telangana question (Editorials, 2014).

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THE UNDECIDED: PAKISTAN AND TALIBAN
NAMITA RAJESH AND BHAVYA RAJ JOSHI | 7 APRIL, 2014

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP (Pakistani Taliban Movement), the largest of the armed fundamentalist groups, last year alone, carried out hundreds of attacks and was involved in widespread killing indifferent parts of the country. Six soldiers were killed in a blast only about a kilometre away from the Pakistani Army's headquarters - just a handful of the more than 90 civilians and security forces to have lost their lives in January 2014 alone. Widespread anger among Pakistan's civilians and rampant and seemingly uncontrollable spread of violence in the country prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accelerate his long, drawn-out campaign for negotiations over military action to end the ongoing crisis. The Pakistani Taliban's agreement to be present for peace talks can be seen as a sign of progress.

The Peace Talks have been initiated against a backdrop of heavy bloodshed and conspiracies. For years, the Pakistan Intelligence Agency, ISI has been accused of assisting various militant organisations, especially the Taliban in carrying out operations and attacks worldwide. The Pakistani government's inability to stop violence or even take up a definitive stand on the extremist organisations' presence and activities has been widely criticised by the international community. In such a tumultuous scenario, one can only hope that the burgeoning efforts to achieve some level of reconciliation with the Taliban after more than eleven years of war help in bringing peace to the region.

Emergence of the Pakistani Taliban

The origins of the Taliban can be traced back to Afghanistan, where it was initiated as an Islamic fundamentalist movement. The movement soon began to spread to various neighbouring regions, particularly in the North-western frontiers of Afghanistan, adjoining Pakistan. The movement then became popular in parts of Pakistan owing to the majority of the Taliban being made of Pashtun tribesmen, who strictly followed the social and cultural norms called "Pashtunwali".

After the 2001 US-invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban's organisation began to get fabricated and a number of loose factions started to operate independently. In 2002, the Pakistani military began conducting incursions into the tribal areas to originally combat foreign (Afghan, Arab and Central Asian) militants fleeing from the war in Afghanistan into the neighbouring tribal areas of Pakistan. In 2004 various tribal groups, effectively established their authority in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by concurrently engaging in military attacks and negotiating with Islamabad. By this time, the militants had killed around 200 rival tribal elders in the region to consolidate control. Several Pakistani analysts also cite the inception of the US missile strikes in the FATA as a catalysing factor in the rise of tribal militancy in the area. More specifically they single out an October 2006 strike on a madrassah in Bajaur that was run by the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi as a turning point.

In December 2007 about 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It is led by Maulana Fazlullah. Among the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan's stated objectives are resistance against the Pakistani state, enforcement of their interpretation of Sharia and a plan to unite against NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.

On 25 August 2008, the Pakistani government banned the group, froze its bank accounts and assets, and barred it from media appearances. The government also announced that bounties would be placed on prominent leaders of the TTP. In 2010, the United States designated the TTP as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation and in 2011, Britain and Canada followed suit.

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LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTAS ACT, 2013 AND DRAFT JAN LOKPAL BILL: A COMPARISON
GARIMA SHARMA AND HIMANSHI SIDDHARTH | 28 FEBRUARY, 2014

With Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's denouncement of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013 and resignation over the impasse over the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by his party, the issue of establishment of a stringent anti-corruption ombudsman refuses to relinquish its foremost position in the policy discourse. Perhaps it also stands an affirmation of the power of the anti-corruption movement that a bill which had been on the verge of impending doom since 1963 –despite the emphasis laid on it by two successive Administrative Reforms Commissions, in 1996 and 2005 respectively –has reached a stage where the debate is no longer on the importance of an ombudsman, but on the efficacy of its different models.

Perhaps the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013 might have been hailed with promise and wonder had it been passed several years back, but with the radically changed political dynamic, post-2011, even the present Bill, despite several amendments to its 2011 version, has come under scathing attack, thanks to Mr. Kejriwal.

KEY DIFFERENCES:

1. SELECTION PROCEDURE

Lokpal:

The Lokpal which consists of the chairperson and members not exceeding eight in number shall be appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of a selection committee consisting of five members --the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India and a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by these four.

Jan Lokpal:

In the Government Act, majority of those who will select Lokpal will be from the political class, who themselves will need to be investigated by the Lokpal. Therefore, in the draft Jan Lokpal bill, the Lokpal shall be appointed by a seven-member committee, consisting of two Supreme Court judges, two High Court judges, one nominee of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Central Vigilance Commissioner, Central Election Commissioner, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.

2. AMBIT OF JURISDICTION

Lokpal:

It brings within its ambit the Prime Minister except in matters pertaining to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space. At least two-thirds of the members of Lokpal must approve of such inquiry. It further provides that any such inquiry shall be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry shall not be published or made available to anyone. Besides the Prime Minister, it brings within its purview any person who is or has been a Minister of the Union and any person who is or has been a Member of either House of Parliament. The Lokpal shall not inquire into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any such allegation of corruption against any Member of either House of Parliament in respect of anything said or a vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof covered under the provisions contained in clause (2) of article 105 of the Constitution. With respect to bureaucracy, it includes any Group 'A', 'B','C' or 'D' official or equivalent from amongst the public servants defined in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 when serving or who has served in connection with the affairs of the Union.

Jan Lokpal:

Unlike the Government Act which excludes judiciary completely and MPs in respect of their votes and speeches in Parliament, the Jan Lokpal includes all public servants including the judges and MPs with regard to all their public duties.

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THE ELONGATED DISPUTE OVER SIACHEN
NAMITA RAJESH AND BHAVYA RAJ JOSHI | 11 FEBRUARY, 2014

The dispute over the Siachen Glacier has been plaguing India and Pakistan for decades. The relations between the two countries have been through a series of ups and downs, as a consequence of which, the Siachen conflict has failed to arrive at a solution. The highest battleground on earth has become a talking point owing to the vast economic and military expenditure that both countries have incurred. Despite multiple Agreements and talks, the unresolved conflict remains a cause of unrest and is a defining point in the complex relations between India and Pakistan.

THE SIACHEN DISPUTE

Agreements:

  • The first Indo-Pak war over Kashmir soon after partition had concluded in 1949, with an agreement in Karachi, also known as the “Ceasefire Agreement”. The Agreement, drafted by experts from the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) as well as the Indian and Pakistani armed forces, established a ceasefire line, running through Jammu and Kashmir (over two-thirds of which, at the time was controlled by India). The ceasefire line was clearly defined till the point called NJ 9842. From this point north to the Chinese border, the area was left un-demarcated because of its physical inaccessibility and the fact that neither country had military troops stationed there. India claims the glacier lies within the jurisdiction of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Pakistan claims the glacier is located in the northern areas of the disputed territory under its administration.

  • Following the Karachi Agreement, a major landmark pertaining to the Siachen Glacier was the Simla Agreement, which came during the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war in 1971. The Agreement was signed by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 2 July 1972. The Agreement stated that “the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognised position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this Line.”

What has presently emerged as one of the longest and most precarious conflicts in the history of the two nations, started in 1983. There are several accounts of how the events of 1984, particularly Operation Meghdoot unfolded.

In 1983, India received intelligence reports that warned that Pakistan had begun planning an assault on the Saltoro Ridge. A force known as the Burzil Force was to be launched from Skardu under "Operation Ababeel". RAW received information from a London company which had supplied Arctic-weather gear for Indian troops from Northern Ladakh, that some paramilitary forces from Pakistan too had bought similar Arctic-weather gear.

As a pre-emptive measure, India launched "Operation Meghdoot", which was led by Lieutenant General PremNathHoon, the then General Officer Commanding the 15 Corp in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. This task of establishing Indian Army's presence over Siachen Glacier was entrusted to one of the Kumaon Battalions, supported by a company of Ladakh Scouts and two companies of another Kumaon Battalion. The next wave under Capt Sanjay Kulkarni, landed on the Glacier, and hoisted the Indian Tricolour on Bilafond La (Siachen Glacier). The foot column led by Capt (later Lt Col) PV Yadav, SM, reached the Glacier subsequently, after a strenuous four-day march over extremely inhospitable terrain. The column set up Camps I, II and III for maintenance of newly established Posts on the Glacier. Pakistan then went on to occupy the Western Ridge, from where it could observe the Indian defences clearly. A heavy exchange of fire took place, and the post was under heavy fire of Medium Machine Guns and mortars, after which, the Pakistanis were forced to retreat.

In 1986, the defence and foreign secretaries of the two nations, along with senior military personnel, began negotiating a peace deal over Siachen. In the talks, India demanded that Pakistan ceased its unilateral attempt to extend the Line of Control from the agreed terminus at map reference point NJ 9842 to the Karokoram Pass on the border with China. Pakistan insisted that the deployment of Indian and Pakistani forces should be in mutually agreed positions that were held at the time of the ceasefire in 1971 (i.e., pre-Simla positions). In June 1989, the fifth round of talks between their defence secretaries produced a breakthrough. The joint statement issued at their conclusion stated: "There was agreement by both sides to work towards a comprehensive settlement, based on redeployment of forces to reduce the chances of conflict, avoidance of the use of force and the determination of future positions on the ground so as to conform with the Simla agreement and to ensure durable peace in the Siachen area. The army authorities in both sides will determine these positions." Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan endorsed this statement. Further talks were held in 1992, where both sides presented their respective positions:

  • The Indian side's proposal dated November 3, 1992 contained the following elements: Delineation of the Line of Control north of NJ 9842; redeployment of troops on both sides to agreed positions, but after demarcating their existing positions; a zone of disengagement subsequent to the redeployment, with both sides committing that they would not seek to intrude into this zone; a monitoring mechanism to maintain the peace in the Zone of Disengagement (ZoD).

  • Pakistan's proposal was as follows: Both sides would vacate their troops from the triangular area between Indira Col in the west, Karakoram Pass in the east and NJ 9842; troops on both sides would withdraw to a point south of NJ 9842, to the pre-1972 Simla Agreement positions; neither side shall attempt to alter the status of the demilitarised triangle pending delineation of the LoC north of NJ 9842 by a joint commission.

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A TRAJECTORY OF BANGLADESH'S ELECTORAL POLITICS
BHAVYA RAJ JOSHI AND NAMITA RAJESH | 20 JANUARY, 2014

Introduction

For most of its history, the territory that is today Bangladesh was governed as the eastern part of a larger Bengal, which included much of the present-day Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. Rising British trading influence from the early 17th century culminated in the defeat of Mughal forces at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the imposition of British rule in Bengal. Upon the departure of the British in 1947, Bengal was split, with Muslim-majority areas forming East Pakistan and the remainder being incorporated into India. Pakistan itself was divided into East and West Pakistan, separated by miles of Indian territory.

Relations between East and West Pakistan quickly soured and Bengali nationalist sentiment hardened through the 1960s. In 1970, the Awami League, campaigning on a six-point platform for East Pakistan's autonomy, won a majority of the 300 seats in a national constituent assembly tasked with writing a new constitution for Pakistan. Opposing the Awami League's plan to turn Pakistan into a loose federation, President Yahya Khan refused to allow the assembly to sit, sparking riots in East Pakistan. On March 25, 1971, Yahya launched a bloody crackdown on East Pakistani dissidents, which was met by outright rebellion. Following a guerilla war and a decisive military intervention by India, East Pakistan gained its independence on December 16, 1971 and became Bangladesh.

Post Independence

In January 1972 Mujibur Rahman was installed as the first prime minister of the new parliamentary government of Bangladesh, and Abu Sayeef Choudhury became president.

TWO PARTY CONTEST IN BANGLADESH

Ideally, Politics in Bangladesh takes pace in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of the government, and of a multi-party system. Though, mainly what is witnessed is a two party contest between the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which are considered to be the two prime parties.

Awami League

• From its founding in 1949, the Awami League (the oldest and biggest party) was the expression of Bengali nationalism in the territory then known as East Pakistan. Following elections in December 1970, which the league won, the military ruler of Pakistan canceled the National Assembly. Opposition to this by the Awami League led to the creation of a national flag for the Bengali homeland, Bangladesh.

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ELECTORAL VERDICT AND PRESIDENT'S RULE IN DELHI
GARIMA SHARMA AND HIMANSHI SIDDHARTH

The Indian political landscape has been re-shaped by the results of the recent assembly polls in India's key states which pronounced an expected electoral victory of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). However, the most astounding were the results of the assembly elections in Delhi, in which out of the three major parties –Congress, BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) –none of the two emergent contenders viz. BJP and AAP, could garner the requisite majority in the 70-member assembly. With the refusal of the BJP and the AAP to enter into post-poll alliances leading to a hung assembly, the immediate electoral issues have given way to a raging debate on the certainty of the President's rule in Delhi.

Electoral verdict –Hung assembly

The 2013 Delhi assembly elections marked a massive defeat of the 15-year-old reign of the Sheila Dixit-led Congress government. In a triangular contest, the Congress was pushed to the third position, with just 8 seats in the 70-member assembly. On the other hand, the BJP emerged with the single largest share of 31 seats, but fell short of the required number of 36 seats. Its Chief Ministerial candidate, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, won from East Delhi's Krishna Nagar constituency by 5000 votes. Its ally SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) bagged only one seat. Unexpectedly, the newbie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emerged as a resounding success with 28 seats. Its honcho Arvind Kejriwal defeated the three-time Congress Chief Minister by a margin of nearly 25,000 votes from the New Delhi constituency.

Other parties hardly made an electoral impact. The JD(U) (Janta Dal United) managed to secure one seat. Surprisingly, the BSP (BahujanSamaj Party), which had emerged as the third largest party in the last assembly election, was completely pushed out of the race.

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MUZAFFARNAGAR:FACT FINDING REPORT I
CENTRE FOR POLICY ANALYSIS

Muzaffarnagar 2013: Violence by Political Design

Introduction and Overview

The first impression of the Muzaffarnagar countryside, now green with the sugarcane ripening for harvest, is of utter desolation. Villages are tense with fear. Kasbas and hamlets are purged of their Muslim presence and the Hindu quarters have also emptied out in a self-imposed curfew even at midday, as women and children peep out from behind closed doors and windows, their menfolk having fled to avoid arrest as criminal complaints are made out against them. Fear is in the air. The atmosphere reeks of embitterment and betrayed trust, with neighbour now unwilling to trust neighbour, and apprehensive of ever returning to their accustomed lives. All the evidence points towards people who were forced to flee their habitations in sheer terror and seek out the safety of gathering among others of their own faith, occupying any vacant space in areas where they could be sure of not being targets just because of who they were.

"We will never go back to our villages", say Muslim women refugees in a makeshift camp in the tehsil town of Budhana, some twenty kilometres from Muzaffarnagar. They are among two thousand five hundred men, women and children who fled their villages to seek safety in the town, among members of their own community. In the blazing post-monsoon heat, they are camped under a shamiana, where local community organisations scrape together the means to feed them twice a day. An open drain runs nearby, fetid with stagnant water. There is no water source and no doctor or health-care worker has visited them in the week that they have been there.The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) visited them close to a week since they were uprooted from their villages. Police patrols are at a distance and seem mostly static. There is a clear message that is held out to them: that they can only call upon members of their own community for sustenance and assistance in this hour of dire need.

Though the Home Secretary in the Government of Uttar Pradesh has claimed that those displaced from their villages had been sheltered in state-run camps, there was a conspicuous absence of any official at the Budhana camps. Sanitation seemed to be the least priority since meeting the basic needs of food was itself a challenge.

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MUZAFFARNAGAR:FACT FINDING REPORT II
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Persisting Embitterment, Faltering Processes of Justice

Close to three months since communal violence swept across the neighbouring districts of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, the effort to restore peace remains patchy and sporadic. Political expediency seems to take precedence over doing what would be fair and just. Processes of accountability for those who took part in the violence remain weak. Known wrong-doers who instigated the violence by spreading concocted and inflammatory information, have been lionised and paraded in triumph by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as part of its cycle of mobilisation on communal lines for elections early next year. And the large-scale human displacement that took place remains un-mitigated in significant part.

We had observed in our first report written after a visit to affected areas on September 14, that the Uttar Pradesh government had been in default on its duties of providing relief in the immediate aftermath of the mass violence that began on September 7. Because of reports of continued distress among survivors, we decided to re-visit the affected areas, to evaluate both the situation of survivors, and progress in relief, rehabilitation, reconciliation and legal justice. On our return visit on December 2, we found that all relief camps had been officially terminated, even though several displaced persons were still unwilling to return home because they continued to feel unsafe.

On the positive side, the state government supplied rations in the relief camps for the duration of nearly two months. It also made arrangements for people to register police complaints in the camps, and ensured some basic supplies. However, the quality of basic services in the camps continued to be poor. In an Irrigation Department compound at the edge of the tehsil town of Budhana in Muzaffarnagar district, displaced persons from the village of Itawa, some eight kilometres away, spoke of two children aged three and eleven, having died of dengue in the two months that they had been there. Similar grim stories have been reported from elsewhere in the district.

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CONVENTION RECOMMENDATIONS
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The Centre for Policy Analysis, in collaboration with Action Aid, India and Focus on the Global South, organized a Youth Convention in Srinagar on June 2, 2012 as a sequel to a similar Convention on the Democratic Rights of Kashmiri Youth held in New Delhi in March, 2012. Nearly sixty students from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia along with five journalists and activists travelled from Delhi by bus to Srinagar to participate in the Convention being held at the Institute of Management and Public Administration.

They were joined at the day long Conference by at least 150 young people from Kashmir in what was described by speakers as a “historic initiative” and a first for the young people of Jammu and Kashmir. Although youth meetings have taken place at various levels, this was the first such large scale interaction between the young people from Delhi and Kashmir where they spoke freely, and at the end embraced each other in solidarity. The Convention was addressed by the youth from both sides as they sought a common plan of action. This was after a short Opening Session addressed by Professor Gul Wani from Kashmir University, Siddiq Wahid who is heading the Institute of Kashmir Studies, Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir, Hameeda Nayeem, Professor and well known human rights activist along with Yasin Malik, JKLF chairperson, Yousuf Tarigami, CPI(M) legislator from Kashmir, and Engineer Rashid, Independent MLA from Kashmir. 

CPI(M) MP from Kerala MB Rajesh addressed the Concluding session of the Convention.

The Youth took active part in the last session to formulate the recommendations. The following list of recommendations that will become part of a joint action program were adopted by the Convention:

1) Demilitarization: maximum withdrawal of the Army from the civilian areas of Jammu and Kashmir;

2) Withdrawal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act;

3) Trial and Punishment of the security personnel responsible for killing the young people in the summer of 2010;

4) Release of the Youth illegally detained; legal aid for all the young people in jail;

5) Investigation by an impartial authority into all fake encounters and immediate action against those found guilty;

6) Registration of cases of enforced disappearances followed by investigation and action within a time frame;

7) Investigation by an impartial authority into the rape cases that still remain unresolved;

8) Investigation by an impartial authority into the unmarked graves to establish the identities of those killed, and the culpability of those responsible for the murders;

9) Respect by the Indian state for the Right to Dissent;

10) Freedom to the young people to form students unions and organizations in Kashmir as per the mandate of the courts;

11) Unrestricted use of the social media in Kashmir; the government must stop harassing and terrorizing the young people of Jammu and Kashmir on this issue;

12) Unrestricted use of the SMS service on the mobile phone that is generally not allowed; easy access to SIM cards that has also been curtailed by the government;

13) Steps to issue passports to the youth most of whom are denied this basic document without any explanation;

14) Rehabilitation and compensation of the victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir;

15) Facilitation of the return of Kashmiri pundits;

16) Immediate steps should be taken by the government to stop environmental degradation in Jammu and Kashmir;

17) The government must apologise for forced labour, and take immediate steps to compensate the victims;

18) An impartial committee should be set up to monitor the misuse of state funds at all levels as a step to deal with rampant corruption in Jammu and Kashmir;

19) In the complete absence of verifiable government statistics, authentic and transparent surveys should be undertaken to fix the number of missing persons, those killed in encounters, and those who have disappeared without trace till date;

20) Immediate resumption of dialogue with all shades of opinion in Kashmir; and fast tracking of the ongoing talks between India and Pakistan on the resolution of Kashmir.

PAPERS & PETITIONS

> Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department
Gaza | 12 November, 2012

>NEWS FROM THE CPI(M)
26 July, 2012

 

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