Monday, July 19, 2010

Indian beef is buffalo meat, says Malaysian minister

Alor Setar (Malaysia) Jul 19 (Bernama) Beef imported from India is actually buffalo meat, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar has clarified.He said the 'Indian beef', referred to as "daging kotak" in Malaysia was cheaper than local beef and was preferred by the people.People should not be confused over the use of the term 'Indian beef' as India has laws banning the slaughter of cows, he told reporters after the ministry's monthly assembly at the headquarters of the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) here.Noh said Malaysia imported about 80,000 tonnes of meat from India annually.

Mizos hail their CM’s bold remarks

Even though Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has clarified that his racism statement had been misinterpreted, many in Mizoram believe there was nothing wrong in his remarks.Students, in particular, feel Thanhawla has boldly spoken the truth and highlighted the ‘ground reality.’ A Northeast Students’ Organization release here today said, "By making this statement, Thanhawla has echoed the true feelings of the northeastern people. The NESO is delighted to have such a Chief Minister who has boldly revealed the ground reality in our country." "He has revealed before the world the pangs of racial discrimination silently suffered by the northeast people," NESO vice-chairman Lalmuanpuia Punte said in the statement.Speaking in an international conference on water in Singapore recently, Lal Thanhawla reportedly said he was a victim of racism in India."In India, people ask me if I am an Indian. When I go south, people ask me such questions. They ask me if I am from Nepal or elsewhere. They forget that Northeast is also a part of India. I told them that I am an Indian like you," he had said.C Lalhmachhuana, president of Mizorams apex students body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), said: "The mainland Indians treat us as if we are foreigners. It is my feeling that even the politicians at the Centre have been giving us a stepdaughter treatment. Our Chief Minister has spoken the truth and he has spoken on behalf of the entire northeast people." Social activists too stand by Thanhawla. "Thanhawla has been bold enough to highlight the true feelings buried deep in the hearts of the northeast people," said Ruatfela Nu, a social activist in Aizawl. Lalremruata Varte, a young professional in Aizawl, who had studied in Pune and Ahmednagar, said, "Ask anyone who had tasted a campus life in Delhi or other big cities, their answers would be in support of the Chief Ministers statement. How could those people call Australians racist while they are discriminating their own fellow countrymen?" A number of Mizo women say that they feel more at home in South East Asian countries than in their own country."For me, Bangkok is like home compared to our national capital Delhi. In Delhi, Mumbai or any other big cities in India, I can never feel secured. I feel secure when I go to South East Asian countries," businesswoman Mate said.

Muivah in reconciliation mood

Naga separatist leader T. Muivah has stressed on reconciliation and claimed to be ready for any dialogue with other Naga underground groups on this issue.“According to the commitment we have made, any time we are prepared to meet and talk with Khaplang, Khole and those who are still remaining uncommitted,” Muivah remarked during a public reception at Jotsoma village recently.“If any body fails, that would be very unfortunate because time for the Nagas is very precious. We have to see that adversaries do not exploit our weaknesses,” the Naga leader stressed. According to him those who claim to love the nation must try and understand their people and draw them to serve the cause of the nation. He said it was this necessity that made them visit places in search of understanding among the Naga people.“Jotsoma is an important village, we have respect for them, they have proud history and we are proud of them,” Muivah said. Regarding the opposition to his visit to different parts of Nagaland, Muivah said such point showed they do not understand the necessity the Naga people were facing today. “It is time for every Nagas to seek understanding of our time today. That is the way towards peace and progress,” he remarked.“Whenever anybody tries to understand the necessity of the nation, they should welcome them; wait for the concern they have, that is what they should do. But if they don’t try to understand others, then that is their mistake. For us, we will be very glad to understand them, we can even go and have talks with them to understand the issue before the Nagas that is expected from any sensible Nagas,” Muivah added.Firmly supporting the reconciliation process, Muivah said that there was no hurdle in the process of reconciliation but asserted there were negative attitudes towards reconciliation sometimes. “In the history of National struggle, there will be stages, armed stage, political stage and there may be also a stage both the adversaries and ourselves can understand each other,” he said. Muivah said it was high time that Nagas should understand each other.“We are ready to share our experiences and commitment and we are here today,” he affirmed.

Ray of peace

The much-awaited meeting between the Prime Minister and Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan finally took place in Delhi recently. The meeting was aimed at creating conducive atmosphere for an amicable and negotiated settlement of the ULFA issue. After meeting with the Prime Minister Dr. Hiren Gohain, convenor of the committee expressed happiness and revealed that Dr. Manmohan Singh appeared to be keen to have a dialogue with ULFA and he (Prime Minister) means business. The 6-member delegation of the committee, which met the Prime Minister, raised several issues during their 45-minute discussion. Among the issues the Committee raised were early release of ULFA leaders from jail. The committee members argued that it was necessary so that the general council of ULFA could meet. Other members of the delegation are former Vice-Chancellor, Gauhati University, Dr Nirmal Kumar Chaudhuri, Dr Rohini Barua, Hiranya Bhattacharya, Indibar Deuri and Prof. Khorshed Alam. In an exclusive chat with Access North East Dr. Hiren Gohain further reveals “Our meeting with the Prime Minister was very fruitful. The Prime Minister appeared to be keen to understand the problem and solve it. His seriousness can be judged from the fact that he gave us 45 minutes and listened to our views with rapt attention.” “At first we informed him about the formation of Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan, its aim and purpose. We categorically told him that we do not support ULFA. Rather we criticized the organization for their wrong doings. But at the same time, we realized that some of their grievances are genuine and needed to be addressed at the earliest. We think that once these issues are solved, Assam will return to peace and normalcy. For example, lack of development is a concern for the populace of Assam. We are not saying that Centre has done nothing to develop Assam. It provided funds from time to time for development. But the Centre has failed to keep a watch on how the funds were being used. We told the Prime Minister that unless an effective management system is created to monitor the use of developmental funds, fruits of development would not reach to the people of Assam. Assam will continue suffer. In this context we mentioned about Kashmir too. We pointed out that with all the money for development, that State is still in turmoil. Assam will soon joining the list.” “At this juncture one of my colleagues interjected by saying that ULFA is the mother of all insurgency in Assam. Several ethnic groups have taken up arms following ULFA line. So once the ULFA problem is solved, other problems will be solved automatically. Another colleague pointed out about lack of employment avenues.” “We appealed to the Prime Minister to ensure early release of the jailed ULFA leaders. So that they can discuss between them on the issue of holding talks with The Centre. We argued that decision on such an issue cannot be taken inside the jail. ULFA leaders should get a chance to talk freely among themselves.” “The Prime Minister, who listened our arguments carefully, spoke after we made our submission. He assured us that the center would do everything possible for the return of peace in Assam. He reminded us that in 2006, at the behest of Indira Goswami similar kind of efforts were made. He himself took part in that initiative. He would be happy if our efforts could bear fruits.” Meanwhile in another related development PC Haldar is set to be ULFA talks interlocutor. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi formally suggesting his name to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The Chief Minister briefed Chidambaram on the ULFA peace process being initiated by the State Government. The Union Home Minister has given the “go ahead” and assured of all possible assistance to the State Government to start the peace process, said Mr. Gogoi. “He has given us the go ahead,” he said. Gogoi said, he has suggested Haldar’s name, as he is already involved in the peace process with other militant outfits like DHD (J), UPDS and NDFB among others.

Looking for permanent solution

In a meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai, the Centre has categorically asked Manipur and Nagaland to find a permanent solution to repeated blockades on NH-39 and NH-53.The meeting took note of the fact that the Naga Students’ Federation had blocked the road for nearly two months. It also took note of the Gauhati High Court’s order to the Central Government and the State Governments of Nagaland and Manipur that NH-39 and NH-53 be kept free from all obstructions.All sides reiterated the importance of keeping the National Highways open for movement of goods and people. The Government of India is committed to keeping the NH-39 and NH-53 open.The permanent arrangement of National Highway Protection Force for protecting and keeping open NH-39 would also be put in place, sources said.It has also been decided to deploy at least five companies of Central para-military forces on the NH-39 to thwart any attempt to block it in future.The move comes in the face of the threats by the agitating Nagas that they were temporarily suspending the agitation and may revive it later, if their demands were not met.But even after the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) ‘temporarily’ relaxed the blockade, Manipur bound truckers still felt unsafe to ply on the Dimapur-Imphal NH 39 and continued to travel by the Imphal-Jiribam section of the NH-53.No trucks left for the Imphal from Dimapur along the NH-39 as the economic blockade imposed by the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) was still in force.“We are not convinced for the undisturbed flow of freight trucks as the economic blockade imposed is still on and there were no assurance from the Nagaland government for safe passage of state vehicles,” a truck driver said.Truckers said miscreants used to prey upon trucks on the Dimapur-Imphal road at any place, threatening and demanding money by taking advantage of the blockade.A driver who did not want to be named said that whenever there was blockade or bandh, miscreants always took advantage in collecting money by accusing drivers of violating the bandh.Truck owners agreed with the view and expressed willingness to stand by the resolution taken by the Transporters and Drivers Council not to ply trucks and inter-state buses along the NH 39 until both Nagaland and Manipur government assured security for safe passage of vehicles on this route.Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council, an apex body of transporters, truck and inter-state bus owners and drivers had on June 11 resolved not to ply on Dimapur-Imphal section of the NH-39 until both the government dealt effectively with the diktats of some NGOs enforcing to stop service whenever they wished.Chairman of the Council, H Ranjit said they felt unsafe since organizations appear to have total control over the NH 39 and therefore, the resolve to stand by the decision not to ply this route.He said though the NH 53 was not roadworthy yet the truckers felt safer and have therefore asked the Manipur government to improve the road condition.Meanwhile, Manipur government has also requested Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways to issue a notification regarding the handing over of the NH-53 to the Manipur Public Works Department.Cabinet of the Ibobi led Secular Progressive Front (SPF) in a seating has approved the take-over of NH-53 from 3.22 km (Takyel, Imphal) to 222 km (Jiribam) from the Border Road Organization currently maintaining the road and handover to the state Public Works Department.The state cabinet also approved to provide immediate funds from the state budget to assist the PWD in restoring the NH-53 route.They have also requested the Central government to reimburse the expenses incurred by the state government in strengthening the highway, secretary to chief minister, PK Singh said.