- The highly controversial issue of Nagaland firing grabbed national and international headlines
- Ahead of Manipur polls, BJP may see churn
- Clamour is growing louder for repeal of AFSPA
What a year it’s been. Intense is the word 2021 would get, especially when it comes to India’s northeast region.
Hullabaloo over reports that China constructed village in Arunachal
Early on in 2021, reports claimed that China constructed a new village in Arunachal Pradesh, consisting of over 100 homes. The annual report by the US Department on military and security developments also said in a report that China has built a large village in a disputed area in the Arunachal Pradesh sector.
MoD differ on Pentagon report of a Chinese village inside Indian territory
India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) maintained that all Chinese infrastructure was well within China’s side of the LAC. The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it. India and China were already locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over eight months.
The Opposition made a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. The issue gave fodder to India’s Opposition to target the government on national security. But, politically, BJP gained a stronger foothold in a northeastern state.
First time a non-INC alliance wins consecutive terms in Assam
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) retained power with 75 seats in Assam. It was a dramatic shift in power in India’s northeast region as it marked the first time a non-INC alliance had won consecutive terms in the state. A change in power was witnessed back in 2016 in the northeastern state. The Indian National Congress (INC), which had formed the government under Tarun Gogoi since 2001, lost its majority to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led by Sarbananda Sonowal.
Himanta Biswa Sarma: Force behind BJP's big electoral gains in Northeast
Himanta Biswa Sarma succeeded Sarbananda Sonowal as the next chief minister of the state. He is considered the driving force behind the BJP coming to power in Assam in 2016 and the Northeast at large.
Floods in Assam
Himanta Biswa Sarma led Assam’s efforts and frequently made the headlines for personally overseeing the rescue efforts during floods in Assam this year. The state witnessed floods. Lakhs of people were affected. In fact, the floods in Assam have become an annual phenomenon, every year, it’s the same story.
More than nearly 5.7 lakh people in 18 districts were affected by the flood triggered by continuous heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of Assam. 70 percent of the forest area in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve was submerged under Brahmaputra floodwaters.
Assam-Mizoram border dispute
India’s northeast region was also in news this year for the deadly border clashes. Assam reported that six of their police personnel died after they fought a pitched gun battle with the Mizoram Police at a disputed border in southern Assam on July 26. Assam and Mizoram share a 164.6km-long disputed border. On Mizoram’s side, the bordering districts are Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit, while in Assam’s side, the border-sharing districts are Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj.
This year’s violence highlights the long-standing inter-state boundary issues in the Northeast, particularly between Assam and the states that were carved out of it. The disputes, including clashes between rival police forces, have resulted in the loss of life, livelihood and property.
Recently, in a breakthrough in their long-standing inter-state boundary disputes between Assam and Meghalaya, their respective Chief Ministers on December 22 held a meeting and decided to resolve the issues at 6 areas on or before January 15 as a part of Phase I discussions.
Earlier on December 21, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu had met on the issue of border realignment and alignment between two states. The second wave was brutal in many states and the Northeast was no exception. Many innocents lost their lives. The pandemic also threw challenges for the local economy
The year 2021 also witnessed a botched Army operation in northeast’s Nagaland. The highly controversial issue grabbed national and international headlines.
Army para commandos lying in wait for militants in Nagaland’s Mon district late on December 4 shot and killed six villagers instead, all of them coal mine workers returning home in a van. Soon after, a village search party found the bodies and attacked the soldiers, leading to firing in which seven more civilians died. A soldier was also killed.
The very next day, another civilian was killed in Mon, dominated by the Konyak tribe, when security forces repelled a mob attack on an Assam Rifles camp.
Amit Shah addresses Parliament over Nagaland firing
Home Minister Amit Shah had too made a statement in the Parliament where he expressed regret over the incident and assured the House that probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) will be completed within a month and asserted that all agencies must ensure such happenings do not recur while taking action against insurgents.
Clamour grows louder for repeal of AFSPA
The incident has touched a raw nerve with the entire northeast region erupting in protest and demanding the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
As the year draws to a close, the political developments in the region are in news again. 12 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya joined Trinamool Congress recently. This includes former chief minister Mukul Sangma and 11 other MLAs.
Assembly elections in 2022 in Manipur
The Assembly Elections in Manipur are due early next year along with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa. This year’s electoral battle in the northeastern state assumed a greater significance with the sticky issue of AFSPA following the civilian killings in Nagaland.
What's ahead for BJP?
The ruling BJP is in a difficult spot and it remains to be seen will the BJP overcome the AFSPA hurdle and Nagaland firing issue to win a second consecutive term in Manipur?