A round-up of what’s happening in India’s Northeast.
Tripura: On ECI’s direction, 151 police officers transferred
Barely a week before the assembly election was to be announced for Tripura, a visiting team of the Election Commission of India (ECI) directed the Tripura government to transfer as many as 151 police officers.
The BJP, which has launched an aggressive campaign to unseat the Left Front government – which has been ruling the state for over two decades – has quite a few times accused the state police of “benefiting the CPI-M.” On December 5, BJP cadres gheraoed as many as 50 police stations at each sub-division, alleging the force’s total failure in maintaining law and order in the state.
State BJP president Biplab Deb was recently quoted in local media reports as saying in Agartala: “Tripura Police is not working as per the constitution. CPI-M is killing BJP activists, raping our supporters just because they are not in CPI-M but police should do proper investigation and arrest the culprits. Unfortunately, nothing is being done by police except benefitting the CPI-M.”
Those transferred by the state director general of police Akhil Kumar Shukla, as per the ECI’s direction on January 17, included sub-inspectors and inspectors besides 20 officers-in-charge of police stations posted across the state. A day earlier, Shukla held a meeting with district police chiefs over allegations of the partisan role of police towards the ruling party ahead of the assembly polls.
According to local media reports, ECI deputy commissioner Sudip Jain, who visited the state on January 11 to monitor and supervise the correction of electoral rolls being carried out by the state wing of the ECI, asked the state government to transfer the police officers because they were posted in their home district or sub-division or in a place for more than three years.
Media reports said Jain had also asked Shukla to arrest those people against whom warrants have been pending. It is, however, not clear if he specifically referred to the cases of attacks on BJP cadres.
On January 8, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval were learnt to have raised the issue of law and order in the state with DGP Shukla at the conference of DGPs and IGPs in Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh.
On January 14, Doval was reportedly present at the BJP-RSS’s election meeting in New Delhi on the northeastern states, against which the CPI-M protested. In a letter to the ECI, Bijan Dhar, secretary of Tripura state committee of CPI (M), said, “You being the authority to oversee that no political party, either incumbent or in opposition may not get any undue electoral opportunity by use of administration, may I request you to kindly order an appropriate authority for investigation into the matter and take stern legal measures in the event it is found fact in the investigation.”
The Union home ministry has, however, denied that Doval was a part of the election meeting.
Arunachal Pradesh: Nine oil tankers set on fire; NSCN-Khaplang hand suspected
As many as nine tankers filled with crude oil were set on fire by suspected militants in the remote Namsik area of Arunachal Pradesh on the evening of January 16.
Local police told media that militants belonging to the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) might be behind it.
“Nine oil tankers were set on fire. We suspect that National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) militants are behind the incident since the anti-talks faction has a strong presence in the area along the inter-state border,” a senior police official was quoted as saying in local media reports.
According to the police, the tankers were on their way to the oil town of Digboi in Assam from Arunachal’s Kharsing area when they were intercepted near Namsik and set on fire. Police said fire tankers from neighbouring Tinsukia district of Assam was rushed to douse the fire.
Mukesh Sahay, director general of Assam Police, told media in Guwahati that additional DGP R. P. Meena had been sent to the site to review the situation. He said the army, with help from Assam Rifles and Assam Police, had launched a combing operation in the border areas soon after the incident.
For some time now, the Tinsukia district bordering Arunachal has been witnessing militant activities suspected to be engineered by the anti-talk faction of the ULFA, and also in the adjoining areas in Arunachal by suspected NSCN (K).
Mizoram: Cases of scrub typhus infection reported from district bordering Bangladesh
Cases of scrub typhus have been reported from a district in Mizoram bordering Bangladesh. According to local media reports, as many as 34 cases had come to light until early this week from Haulawng village in the state’s Lunglei district.
The reports, quoting district officials, said the first cases of the infection were reported early this month. Looking at the rising cases, a team of doctors has been dispatched to the remote village.
Scrub typhus is a mite-borne disease. Typical symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, macular rash and cough.
Scrub typhus is not new in Mizoram. According to official estimates, over 1000 people have been infected since 2012. In 2017, a person died and 81 others were infected in Aizawl district.