News Wrap


To quote Nobel Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen, the ‘Rules of the Raj’ are continuing to impose ‘unfreedom’, and are serving as handy tools to crush dissent. The British-Indian penal codes scarcely allow any opportunity for the Right to Dissent. Under Section 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code, a person can be sent to jail for ‘‘hurting the religious sentiments of another’’. Personal sentiments are always delicate. The Indian constitution does not have any such imposition about offending religious sentiments. There is nothing in the constitution against anyone eating beef or storing it in a refrigerator. Some cow venerators may be offended by other people’s food habit. Eating at one’s home, but someone’s sentiments may be hurt in a home elsewhere. The priority of vegetable sentiments, have denied children the nourishment of eggs in school meals, in parts of India. The fear of the offence of allegedly hurting religious sentiments, has forced the research work of leading international scholars to be forcefully subdued by scared publishers. Often journalists are receiving threats for violating the imposed norms. Some people are being attacked by organized detractors. Intolerance has come from the British-Indian penal code. Colonial penal codes are enforcing unfreedom.

Tribalism in Nagaland
The Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland is far from a ceasefire mode, even though Nagaland Chief Minister, T R Zeliang runs India’s only opposition-free state assembly. Khaplang is a Hemi from Myanmar. A bilateral accord with the Myanmarese government and Khaplang of 2012, grants autonomy to three districts of Myanmar, where Khaplang’s rebels roam freely. Khaplang heads the United Liberation Front of Western, East and South-east Asia, with six Manipur rebel groups, ULFA (Independent), headed by Paresh Barua, and Bodo rebels. NSCN(IM) chairman Isak Swu is from Nagaland, and its general secretary Th Muivah is from Manipur. NSCN(IM) has refused to accept the existence of other groups, and want Khaplang to apologise for the slaughter of fellow armed rebels, at the time of the 1988 split. In Nagaland’s Tuensang district, on 06 February 2016, unidentified gunmen killed a 15-year-old boy in a village clash, a woman and a child were abducted, and a policeman was hacked to death in Tuensang town. Tribes like Chang, Yimchunger and Sangtam, whose ancestors indulged in head hunting reside in Tuensang district. Ethnic clashes of the 1990s left more than 1500 people dead. Frequently the Kohima-based Naga Students’ Federation announces ban on movement of all Meiti Manipuri vehicles in all Naga-inhabited areas, covering Nagaland and all hill districts of Manipur.

Us Secret air base
In the name of the fight against Islamic State, Russia continues a devastating aerial campaign against anti-regime rebels. Crude amputations on the injured are done by nurses in the basement of houses, as Russian aristrikes rain down all around on anti-aircraft positions. Southern Syria is one of the few remaining strongholds of the western backed opposition. Rebels there are trained and supplied by the Military Operations Command, a coalition of Arab and western-backed forces. Moscow’s entry into the southern battlefields is another combustible element into an explosive cocktail of warring parties on the border. The Nursa Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, controls territory around Quneitra, the closed crossing point between the Syrian and Israeli sides of the Golan. The Yarmouk Martyr’s Brigade boasts 600 fighters, less than a mile from Israel’s de facto border. To the north are Syrian regime troops, along with Hezbollah and Iranian forces. Two year ago, Israel started bringing wounded Syrians to its hospitals for treatment. Though a humanitarian mission, 90% of patients are male, the majority combatants. In 2015, Israel’s Druze minority attacked an ambulance, and lynched two wounded Syrians, in revenge for the killings of Syrian Druze by Nusra.

Turkey and Russia have backed opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. Russian personnel have strengthened the runaway at an airbase in Qamishli, in an area controlled by the Assad regime, lying within a few miles of Turkey, a NATO member. Barely 30 miles from Qamishli, US forces have established a presence on Syrian soil, for the first time. Several dozen US military personnel have established a base at a former agricultural airfield, a few miles from the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The area is controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been pushing back ISIS, with the help of American air power. Turkey has launched military action against both ISIS and Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Turkish officials accuse the Kurds of seeking Russian backing. Russian formations are stretched from the Iraqi border upto the Mediterranean. The Syrian civil war, a brutal conflict, has claimed more than a half of a million lives. The conflict has drawn in regional and super powers.

Vol. 48, No. 41, Apr 17 - 23, 2016