Seven hundred militants surrender arms in Assam; Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is concerned about the situation in Manipur on the eve of the Assembly elections as NSCN (IM) is interfering in Manipur poll process; Shutdown plagued Manipur votes; One injur
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  • (January 23-29, 2012)

    According to reports, seven hundred militants from nine separatist groups in Assam laid down their arms to join the mainstream in the presence of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. In one of northeast India's biggest surrender ceremonies in Assam's main city of Guwahati, a total of 676 militants laid down weapons and in return received roses from the home minister. The nine groups are part of two major ethnic groups - the tribal Kukis in eastern Assam and the Adivasis inhabiting the northern and western parts of Assam. Among the major groups that surrendered were the Kuki Revolutionary Army, the Hmar People's Convention, the Birsa Commando Force, and the Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam. All the nine militant groups are already observing ceasefires with the government, although formal peace talks are yet to begin. 1
    Meanwhile, according to reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is concerned about the situation in Manipur on the eve of the Assembly elections in the state and has directed the security forces to deal firmly with any armed militant found to be involved in unlawful activities. The Ministry recently sent a team of officers to the state, which fine tuned the deployment of the security forces in consultation with officials of the state government. MHA sources admitted that members of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) are interfering with the poll process in Manipur in violation of the ground rules of the cease-fire agreement with the Government of India. The action of the members of the militant group puts the Government in an embarrassing situation but the MHA has decided to act tough against members of the outfit. Sources said that the NSCN members are openly supporting the candidates of the Naga People’s Front (NPF). 2
    Reports noted that a total of 279 candidates, including 14 women, are in the fray for January 28 polls to the 60-member assembly in Manipur, battling debilitating blockades and dragging insurgency. A total of 1.7 million people are eligible to vote in 2,357 polling booths in the state. For most, the biggest issues are shutdowns, with an over 120-day blockade last year having created huge hardships. While the ruling Congress is trying hard to make it to a third consecutive term, opposition parties have formed a five-party alliance to prevent the ruling party from making it a hat-trick. 3

    Meanwhile, a blast rocked the Manipur Capital Imphal, a day before the Assembly polls. One person was injured. The blast took place at Thangmeiban Iikamdewan Leiki locality. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was triggered by a remote device. 4