News Wrap


The armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been extended to twelve more districts in Arunachal Pradesh, by the Union Government of India. Arunachal has been more or less a very peaceful state. Of course, on 02 April 2015, suspected Naga militants ambushed an army team, on its way to Longdeng district, and killed three personnel. The state does not have any ‘within the state home grown’ militant outfits. The AFSP Act, which gives the army unbridled power, has been in force in Changlang and Tirup districts, bordering Nagaland since 1980, basically to deal with activities of both factions of the Naga NSCN. The All-Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union has been agitating for the deportation of Tibetan and Chakma refugees settled in the two districts by the Union Government.

Around 18 army men, including a junior commissioned suffer of 6 Dogra Regiment, were killed on 04 June 2015, while 11 personnel sustained injuries in an ambush in Charlton village of Manipur’s Chandel district, carried out by valley based insurgents of United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia. Shri S S Khaplang is the Chairman of the new outfit.

Disproportionate Assets
The Karnataka High Court acquitted Ms Jayalalithaa, AIDMK leader, alongwith three associates, in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case. Quoting an earlier case of Krishnanand Agnihotri versus State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1977 SC 796), the judge said disproportionate assets amounted to 10%, the accused were entitled for acquittal. A circular has also been issued by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh, as per which disproportionate assets upto 20%, could also fall under the permissible limit. It was maintained that earlier trial court had ignored the income tax proceedings as ‘‘minimum evidentially value’’. The ten loans which Justice Kumaraswamy lists as the accused possessed, adds upto Rs 10.67 crore (approx), but an error in calculation appears as the loan amount is treated as Rs 24.17 crore (approx). The mistake to the extent of Rs 13.50 crore (approx), alters Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets from 8.12% as given in the judgement, to 76.75%. J Jayalalithaa is the first serving Chief Minister to go to jail for corruption in India. She was sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for the fifth time on 23 May 2015. The Karnataka State Government is challenging in the Supreme Court, the AIDMK supremo’s recent acquittal in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case.

Marketing Margins
India’s government auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General, has criticised the Union Ministry for allowing Reliance Industries to charge a marketing margin on its KG-D6 gas in US dollars terms, and not in Rupees. This is resulting in over Rs 201 crore excess subsidy pay out on urea. The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for KG-D6 block did not provide for marketing margin component. The contractor (RIL) has been charging marketing margin based on the energy equivalent of gas supplied, i.e. $0.135 per mmBtu. The marketing margin is over and above the government approved natural gas sale price. In May 2010, the ministry fixed marketing margin of Rs 200 per thousand cubic metres (mscm). Marketing margin Gas Authority India Limited (GAIL) was fixed in Indian rupee, whereas, the contractor (RIL) was charging this in terms of US dollars. The commodity was being produced, marketed and consumed domestically. Exchange fluctuation meant that the marketing margin which was Rs 244.31 per mscm (2010-11) increased to Rs 325.51 per mscm (2013-14).

Migrant Death Camps
Often stateless and victims of racial hatred, the Rohingya are Muslims from Burma and Bangladesh. Mobs incited by Buddhist extremists turn on the Rohingya, leaving terrified survivors living in isolated conditions, that have been compared to apartheid. In recent times, tens of thousands have crammed on to fishing boats and rickety cargo vessels in an exodus across the Bay of Bengal, hoping to reach Malaysia, where more than 35,000 have already sought refuge. Since 2012, Thai immigration officials have been selling them to traffickers, for as little as £200 each, to get rid of the problem. Many victims are shipped off shore to slave hulks or remote islands. The traffickers imprisoned desperate migrants in bamboo cages, forcing them to call their impoverished families for ransom, many could never pay, typically about £2000. Many Rohingya Muslims, who fled hatred in Myanmar, fall into the hands of human traffickers, and encounter death through sickness, starvation and murder. Since April 2015, more than 80 shallow graves have been located in the forested border of Padang Besar (Songkhla province) with Malayasis. Many of the shallow graves lie close to the road, that local villagers must have known about them. Thai authorities have issued several arrest warrants for alleged traffickers, and transferred scores of policemen suspected of collusion with them. After years of inaction, squads of police and soldiers began sweeping the dense jungles since the beginning May 2015, and found eight camps, holding 100 make-shift dormitory huts.

Myanmar refuses even to acknowledge the name of the Rohingya, who it insists are not Myanmar citizens, but illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. There are an estimated 7000 people stranded on the high Andaman sea. The persecuted Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis, are drifting in open boats. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have refused to allow the boat people ashore. The United Nations has accused governments across south-east Asia, of sending refugees to their death.

Vol. 48, No. 3, July 26 - Aug 1, 2015