A round-up of what’s happening in India’s Northeast.
Arunachal Pradesh: Army kills villager; calls it a case of mistaken identity
A unit of the Indian army’s special forces shot dead a 35-year-old man on June 14 night in Changlang district during a counter-insurgency operation, which it later termed a case of “mistaken identity”. As per local media reports, eight other innocent persons were also injured in the army operation.
The deceased, identified as Thingtu Ngemu, belonged to the Kongsha village of the district. He is survived by his wife and two children.
In a press note released in Guwahati on June 16, defence spokesperson L. Col. Suneet Newton said a group of Assam Rifles’ 21 Para were lying in ambush in Namtok area of the district bordering Myanmar in response to “hard intelligence” confirming movement of some militants.
Newton said, “It was during this time the individual who got killed came into the ambush and, on being challenged, made very suspicious movements and rushed towards the ambush party, which forced them to open controlled fire, resulting in the individual suffering fatal injury.”
Following an uproar among the local community, chief minister Pema Khandu spoke to the Union home ministry officials expressing concern over the killing and sought its urgent intervention in the case.
“I have been informed that in the incident one villager Thingtu Ngemu (35) of Kongsa village has lost his life while several others have been injured. This kind of incident could have been averted through proper care and planning,” Khandu said in a press statement.
Local media reports said that on the night of June 14, Ngemu left home with eight other villagers to look for his old uncle who had gone to the woods to pluck betel leaves earlier in the day and hadn’t returned home. He didn’t know that his uncle had been detained by Assam Rifles. In the forest, Ngemu and the villagers came face to face with the army personnel lying in ambush who mistook them to be militants and opened fire at them.
The angry villagers have filed an FIR against the army personnel and state police in the local police station under section 302/34 of the IPC and the section 27 of the Arms Act. Many civil society and political outfits have condemned the attack on innocent people and have demanded compensation from the army.
The separatist groups – NSCN (Khaplang) and ULFA (Independent) in particular – are said to be using the state’s Changlang district to sneak in and out of Myanmar, leading to regular confrontation between the army and the ultras in the area. In a counter-insurgency operation last December, the army destroyed a strategic camp of the NSCN (K) in Changlang.
In January this year, two special forces soldiers were reportedly killed in an encounter with NSCN (K) militants in the district.
Tripura: Child with the giant head dies
Five-and-a-half-year-old Roona Begum from Tripura, who hit global headlines in 2013 after her head swelled to a giant size due to accumulation of excess fluid in the brain, breathed her last on June 19 at her home.
Her father Abdul Rahman, a daily wager, told reporters, “Roona had her food and I went for my work. At around 8 in the evening, her mother called me to inform that she had some breathing complications. I rushed back and called her but within few minutes she breathed her last.”
Roona’s head reached the abnormal circumference of 94 cms due to hydrocephalus, an ailment that causes excess fluid in the skull leading to deformation in size.
Since 2013, she had undergone eight surgeries at the Gurgaon-based Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Her father said she was due for another test and a possible surgery this July. Though she couldn’t walk or eat on her own, she could communicate in mono syllables with her parents after the fifth surgery.
On reading about Roona and the expensive treatment she would need for her treatment, which her poor parents would not be able to afford, Norwegian citizens Nathalie Krantz and Jonas Borchgrevink began a crowd funding campaign in 2013 through a website MyGoodAct to raise funds for her. They collected approximately $62,000, which was given to the Gurgaon hospital. The hospital also conducted some surgeries on Roona for free.
Though Hydrocephalus is not an uncommon disorder, Roona’s case was considered rare, since children in such cases don’t usually respond to treatment.
Sikkim: State bags five MGNREGA implementation awards
Sikkim has received five national awards, its highest so far, for successful implementation of the central government’s flagship rural employment scheme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), this year.
Conferred at a function in New Delhi on June 19, the awards were also the highest to be given to any state in three categories at the state level, one each at the district and gram panchayat levels.
The three awards received under the state category were for transparency and accountability, sustainable livelihood through convergence and geo-tagging of assets under Geo-MGNREGA.
The state’s east district grabbed the award in the best performing category while Namchi block in South Sikkim received it in the gram panchayat category for the best implementation of the scheme.
Every year, the Union rural ministry gives 144 national awards to states and other organisations and institutions under different programmes of the central government including Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.