Police, tribespeople clash in NE India; 2 dead
Wasbir Hussain, The Associated Press, Gauhati, India | World | Sunday, August 31 2014
A group of tribespeople in insurgency-wracked northeastern India enforced a general strike Sunday to protest the killing of two of its members in a clash with police.
The clash occurred Saturday during a march by hundreds of supporters of the United Naga Council and left 13 other Naga tribespeople injured, said T. Moses Kamba, a spokesman for the council, which is demanding a speedy conclusion of peace talks to end one of the longest-running insurgencies in the region.
Police said they first used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators, but that they resorted to firing live ammunition after hearing gunshots fired by some of the protesters.
The demonstration took place in Ukhrul district, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state.
Immediately after the clash, the council called for a general strike in the area until Sunday evening. All shops and businesses were shut and vehicles were off the roads.
The council sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accusing authorities of violating a 1997 cease-fire accord by militarizing Naga areas in the northeast.
The Indian government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, led by Thuingaleng Muivah, have been holding talks since 1997, but have so far failed to find a solution.
New Delhi says it is impractical to redraw state boundaries to facilitate the Nagas in various northeastern states to live together. Nearly 2 million Nagas live mainly in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states.
The Naga rebels began fighting more than 50 years ago, although a cease-fire has held since it was signed in 1997. India is offering wide autonomy to the group, but has rejected the rebels’ demand for an independent homeland in India’s northeast. (**)