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With 17,897 HIV Positive Persons, Mizoram Has India’s Highest Number Of AIDS Patients

Beyond drug addicts, currently cases of AIDS are also being reported from higher strata of the society

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Screengrab: Side Effects of HIV/ AIDS – Awareness Campaign, Mizoram State Aids Control Society

AIZAWL (Mizoram): The northeastern state of Mizoram reported on Monday that at least 17,897 people are infected with HIV/AIDS, the highest in the country, with nine persons testing positive every day.

Over 42 per cent of those in the age group of 25-34 have tested positive for HIV in the state, one of the least populated in the country, said officials of the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) that released the data on the occasion of the World AIDS Day.

Several awareness programmes were organised here and across the state to mark the Day, which was on December 1, a Sunday. Officials said 2,557 fresh HIV cases were detected in 2018-19, which was “extremely high” as the state has a mere ten lakh population.


Among the total number of HIV patients, 6,069 are female, they said.

While HIV infections were earlier higher among drug addicts and sex workers, currently cases of AIDS are also being reported from higher strata of the society, an official said.

Officials sought the cooperation of political leaders, civil society members and the churches to fight the menace in the Christian-dominated state.



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AGENTS OF CHANGE

HISTORIC: Amit Shah Oversees Pact That Ends Bru-Reang Refugee Crisis

Bru-Reang refugees will be settled in Tripura. Union govt will give Rs 600 Cr for the rehabilitation process.

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NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah presided over the signing of an agreement between Government of India, Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives in New Delhi today, to end the 23-year old Bru-Reang refugee crisis.

This historic agreement is in line with PM Modi’s vision for the progress of the North East and the empowerment of the people of the region. Ever since taking office, PM Modi has initiated numerous policy-level interventions that have improved infrastructure, connectivity, economic growth, tourism and social development of the region.

Present on the occasion were Chief Minister of Mizoram Zoramthanga, CM of Tripura Biplab Kumar Deb, Chairman, NEDA Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chairman, TIPRA Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, representatives of Bru tribes, along with senior officers.


Briefing the media, HM Shah said that a permanent solution has arrived for this long-standing issue of rehabilitating thousands of Bru-Reang people in Tripura and they can now look towards a bright future.

Under the new agreement, he informed, around 34,000 Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura and would be given aid from the Centre to help with their rehabilitation and all-round development, through a package of around Rs 600 crores.

The Home Minister informed that under the new arrangement, each of the displaced families would be given 40×30 sq.ft. residential plots, in addition to the aid under the earlier agreement of a fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakhs, Rs. 5,000 cash aid per month for 2 years, free ration for 2 years and Rs. 1.5 lakhs aid to build their house. The government of Tripura would provide the land under this agreement.



These people would get all the rights that normal residents of the States get and they would now be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes of Centre and State governments.

The settlement has been reached after detailed discussions held by Union government with the State governments of Mizoram and Tripura and the representatives of Bru tribes and it was decided that the Bru refugees, he added.

HM Shah mentioned about how the North East is being put on the track of fast-paced development under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He talked about the recent surrender of 88 armed insurgents of the NLFT(SD) group and assimilating them into the mainstream. This major step, along with the Bru-Reang agreement today, is important milestones in bringing fast-paced development to the State of Tripura. Soon, lasting peace would be established in the whole of the North East, he added.

Background:

In 1997, following ethnic tension, around 5,000 families comprising around 30,000 Bru-Reang tribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Since 2010, the Government of India has been making sustained efforts to permanently rehabilitate these refugees. The Union government has been assisting the two concerned state governments for taking the care of the refugees. Till 2014, 1622 Bru-Reang families returned to Mizoram in different batches.


On July 3, 2018, an agreement was signed between the Union government, the two concerned state governments and representatives of Bru-Reang refugees, as a result of which the aid given to these families was increased substantially.

Subsequently, 328 families comprising of 1369 individuals returned to Mizoram under the agreement. There had been a sustained demand of most Bru-Reang families that they may be allowed to settle down in Tripura, considering their apprehensions about their security.

PM Modi Welcomes The Agreement:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed the agreement to permanently settle the Bru-Reang refugees in Tripura saying it will greatly help them.

Prime Minister described it is a special day indeed. Union Government yesterday signed an agreement with stakeholders from the State of Tripura, Mizoram and members of the Bru community
bringing an end to the 22-year old Bru refugee crisis.

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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

AAI Starts Taking Bids Under UDAN 4.0; Focus On Northeast India, J-K

To create an enabling ecosystem to enhance connectivity to remote regions via optimum incentives, operational flexibility.

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NEW DELHI: The Union Government has launched the fourth round of the regional connectivity scheme, UDAN 4.0 to boost connectivity to more remote and regional areas of the country.

Interested bidders and airline operators can view the bidding details of UDAN 4 on the Airports Authority of India (AAI) site or on the e-commerce company, MSTC’s portal.

UDAN, which stands for ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik’, aims to make air travel affordable and widespread. The UDAN 4.0 will focus on the priority regions including the northeast, hilly states, Jammu and Kashmir UT, Ladakh and islands.


The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation launched the 4th round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN following three successful rounds of bidding to enhance connectivity in the remote and regional areas of the country.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Tuesday initiated the process of taking bids from airlines for various routes under the fourth round of bidding of its regional connectivity scheme UDAN.

Airports that have already been developed by AAI would be given higher priority for the award of VGF (viability gap funding) under the scheme, followed by airports…located in priority areas…followed by airports located in areas other than priority area(s),” it said.



UDAN 4.0: 

Revision of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) – The VGF provision for Category 2 / 3 aircraft (with more than 20 seats) has been enhanced for the operation of flights under RCS to priority areas.

The VGF cap applicable for operation of category 1 / 1 A aircraft (below 20 seaters) has also been revised to incentivize the operation of smaller aircraft under the scheme.

Priority Areas:

The priority areas include the two new union territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, north-eastern states and island regions of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.


Short-haul routes:

The VGF provision would be restricted to routes with stage length of up to 600 km for the operation of category 2 / 3 aircraft. Beyond this, no monetary support would be provided. The table for the provision of VGF for various stage lengths would be available for stage length up to 500 km.

Prioritization framework:

Under the scheme, airports already developed by the Airport Authority of India will be given higher priority for the Viability Gap Funding. The airports not part of the list but are located in the priority areas will be given priority next, followed by airports located in other areas.

Flexibility to change the flight operation frequency:

The Selected Airline Operator (SAO) will be allowed to change the flight operation frequency during the tenure of flight operation of the given route. However, this will only be allowed when the total scheduled flight operation, which was submitted as a part of the Technical Proposal, was conformed and adhered to within a year.

Inclusion of helicopter and seaplane operation:

The operation of helicopter and seaplane would be allowed under round four of the UDAN scheme under the NSOP license.

History:


The UDAN scheme was launched in October 2016 to make air travel affordable by providing connectivity to the under-served areas in the country by the revival of existing airports and airstrips.

Till date, under the scheme, a total of 688 routes connecting 137 cities have been awarded to airlines.

MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) aims to operationalise 1,000 routes and more than 100 airports in the next five years. This would be achieved by focusing on operationalising routes in priority areas,” it said.

On November 28, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Lok Sabha that flight operations have begun on 232 routes — connecting 43 small cities — out of total 688 routes awarded under UDAN scheme.

Besides making travel affordable and accessible to all, the UDAN scheme aims to boost inclusive national economic development, development of air transport infrastructure in all regions and job growth.

In the last three years, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation completed three rounds of bidding under the scheme in the last three years and awarded around 700 routes, many of which will be operationalized during the winter schedule 2019. The Ministry is working to develop more airports and operationalize the pending routes.

Overall, the Civil Aviation Ministry aims to operationalize around 1000 routes and develop more than 100 airports in the next five years. The Ministry aims to achieve this by focusing on operationalizing routes in the priority areas.

The Aviation Ministry aims to develop short-haul routes. The Airport Authority of India also aims to develop no-frills airports in the future and the routes connecting such airports will be prioritized for awarding the Viability Gap Funding.

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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

Nagaland Peace Process: The Break Of Dawn Seems Imminent

A generous rehabilitation package for militants has to be drawn up as a step to ensure that there is stability.

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Marking a possible final phase of India’s longest enduring insurgency, the deadlock between the Government of India (GoI) and National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) was broken on October 31, 2019, with the NSCN-IM agreeing to sign a peace deal.

Also Read:
(1) Government Determined To Conclude Naga Peace Process: Governor R N Ravi
(2) Centre Needs To Note The Naga Separatists’ Unease
(3) ‘Indo-Naga Political Negotiations’ Not Restricted to Nagaland: NNPG

Both parties, according to reports, have reached an acceptable position on the contentious issues of Naga flag and Naga constitution, which were the main roadblocks for signing the accord. Nagaland Governor and interlocutor for the peace talks, R.N. Ravi stated, “the accord has not been finalised yet. Matters are under discussion. NSCN-IM has come on board.”


The latest phase of the peace process started with the signing of the Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015,  with the NSCN-IM. Later in 2016, the scope of the accord was widened with the formation of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), a conglomerate of  Naga militant formations to secure a ‘permanent solution’ to the ‘Naga issue’.

The negotiations, which have lingered on for over four years, reached a limbo when R.N. Ravi, on August 21, 2019, stated that the peace process was stuck up on symbolic issues of Flag and Constitution, although core issues had been resolved.

Indeed, on September 29,  2019, NSCN-IM ‘general secretary’ Thuingaleng Muivah stated that there would be no peace accord without the flag and constitution.

In the runup to the deadline of October 31, 2019, set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a change in posture by NSCN-IM and the Security Forces (SFs), was indicated. Reports indicate that NSCN-IM militants had started moving into Manipur and Mizoram to cross over to Myanmar and SFs were being redeployed. Deputy Commissioners (DC) and administrative officers were ordered to remain within their places of posting and jurisdiction.



Moreover, in the earlier months of 2019, confrontations between NSCN-IM and SFs had recorded a spike.

A chief catalyst for NSCN-IM’s abrupt change of heart is likely to have been the defections of kilo kilonser (home minister) ’ Hukavi Yeputhomi and 16 other leaders on October 25 and 22 other senior NSCN-IM leaders on October 28.

The apprehension of further defections significantly weakening NSCN-IM, and resulting in the group’s displacement from its principal position at the negotiating table, to be rendered isolated and irrelevant in a future peace process, are likely to have prodded the leadership to come back on board.

Despite the October 31 development, a plethora of concerns need to be addressed. Although the Government has assured that no final agreement will be taken without consultation with all stakeholders, one of the main issues to be addressed will be the apprehensions of states such as Manipur, Assam and Arunachal whose territorial areas are included in NSCN-IM’s vision of ‘Greater Nagaland’ or ‘Nagalim’.

In  Arunachal Pradesh, All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) had on October 29 stated that the Naga accord should not change the territorial jurisdiction of the state.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Pema Khandu also stated on October 31 that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had assured him that inputs from Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal will also be factored in before the final agreement.

Valley areas of Manipur have already seen a host of protest demonstrations, with the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) launching a massive protest against any deal that could affect the territorial integrity of Manipur as a result of the Naga accord. After the news of the October 31 agreement, COCOMI has extended its cease-work strike and protests.


Reports indicate that Army troops have been air-lifted to Manipur from Dimapur (Nagaland) on October 31.

This is supplementary to the 15 Companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in Imphal area. Apprehension in Manipur is likely to persist as the issues of integration of Naga inhabited areas outside Nagaland are stated to require further discussion.

Possibility of a break down in law and order in valley areas of Manipur remains a possibility.

With insurgency-related fatalities declining consistently, the October 31 agreement is a timely development in the right direction. However, considerable distance needs to be covered in the coming days to bring in an enduring peace by addressing the apprehensions of neighbouring states and equally satisfying naga demands as well.

A generous rehabilitation package for militants has to be drawn up as a step to ensure that there is stability in law and order situation.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

M A Athul

M A Athul is a Research Assistant with the Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi. He is currently working on research and documentation of insurgency in North East India. He has also worked on the field on West Asia and Afghanistan

 

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