Indian police on April 24 arrested Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh after a month-long manhunt. Singh gained notoriety for supporting the Khalistan movement, which calls for the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland in the northwest state of Punjab. He was taken into custody in the gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the village of Moga, Punjab. He is charged with attempted murder, obstructing law enforcement, and disturbing the peace under terms of the harsh National Security Act. The charges concern a Feb. 23 incident in which hundreds of followers of Singh's organization Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) stormed a police station in Amritsar with sticks, swords and firearms, demanding the release of a detained member of their group. During the manhunt for Singh, authorities cut off internet access to all Punjab, a state of nearly 30 million. (Jurist, Mint)
At least 14 people were killed and over 100 are missing after South Lhonak glacial lake in the Indian state of Sikkim burst due to incessant rains Oct. 4, inundating downstream areas. The sudden deluge on the Teesta River destroyed the Chungthang dam and flooded several districts, including Mangan, Gangtok, Pakyong and Namchi. Many residents remain cut off. (Indian Express, The Hindu) Scientists had long warned that South Lhonak lake would burst. A detailed study, Future Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) hazard of the South Lhonak Lake, Sikkim Himalaya, was published in Geomorphology journal in September 2021. It noted that the lake had witnessed a significant increase in size over the past decades due to glacial retreat. India's Central Water Commission had initiated an advisory study to evaluate the condition of the Himalayan lake system in Sikkim. (DownToEarth)
In Episode 189 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that despite all the tankie pseudo-left enthusiasm for the BRICS summit in South Africa, the notion of a unified bloc against Western hegemony is illusory. The Johannesburg confab was immediately followed by a diplomatic spat between China and India, sparked by Beijing's release of an official map of the territory of the People's Republic—showing two Himalayan enclaves claimed by India as Chinese territory: Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which have both been the scene of border skirmishes in recent years. The map also shows an island in the Amur River, by mutual agreement half controlled by Russia, as entirely Chinese. Moscow, depending on China's acquiescence in the Ukraine war, has lodged no protest over this. But the border disputes between nuclear-armed India and China have the potential to escalate to the unthinkable. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague dismissed India's objections concerning its authority to address the ongoing Indus River disputes between India and Pakistan on July 6. The ruling reinstates a case that had been impeded for several years. Pakistan asserts that India's proposed hydroelectric energy projects will substantially diminish the Indus' flow, negatively affecting Pakistani agriculture. Pakistan initiated legal proceedings against India in 2016, seeking arbitration to address the issue. India raised objections regarding the jurisdiction of the PCA.
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum in India's northeast state of Manipur announced June 26 that it has rejected "any offer of dialogue" with the state's Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. In a statement, the ITLF said the chief minister's stated intention of reaching out to stakeholders following a meeting with India's Home Minister Amit Shah "comes too late after the loss of so many innocent lives and properties and the untold hardships faced by the Kuki-Zo tribals; there is no point in talking about peace without a political solution." Singh, of India's ruling Hindu-nationalist BJP, is accused of inaction or outright collaboration in attacks during weeks of violence between the Hindu Meitei community and the mostly Christian and animist Kuki and Naga indigenous peoples. (The Wire)
In Episode 179 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg compares the military and settler attacks on Palestinian towns in the West Bank with the eruption of ethnic violence in Northeast India's state of Manipur—and uncovers the unlikely connection between the two. The Kuki indigenous people now targeted in Manipur includes a sub-group called the Bnei Menashe, who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and practice an ancient form of Judaism. Israeli NGOs are raising the alarm about the violence in Manipur, but also exploiting it, luring Bnei Menashe to emigrate to Israel—with some of them settled on the West Bank, serving as demographic cannon fodder for the Zionist project. The Kuki and Palestinians, both land-rooted peoples usurped of their traditional territory, are pitted against each other—despite the convergence of their enemies in a Hindutva-Zionist alliance.
In Episode 178 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the new eruption of ethnic violence in Northeast India's state of Manipur, which was the scene of far deadlier inter-communal clashes last month. The spark was the current bid by the Meitei people to become a "scheduled tribe," granting them access to resource-rich forestlands. This is opposed by the Kuki and Naga peoples, whose tribes are already "scheduled"—but are nonetheless being targeted for eviction from Manipur's forestlands under the guise of a crackdown on opium cultivation. The Kuki and Naga leadership perceive a land-grab for their ancestral forest territory by the Meitei—the dominant group in Manipur, who already control the best agricultural land in the state's central Imphal Valley. The Kuki (including their Jewish sub-group, the Bnei Menashe) and Naga have long waged insurgencies seeking territorial autonomy, or even independence from India. And both their traditional territories extend across the border into Burma (where the Kuki are known as the Chin), pointing to potential convergence of the armed conflicts either side of the international line.
The government of India on Dec. 27 announced that it had signed a peace agreement with the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), an insurgent group in the northeastern state of Manipur. Senior officials of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Manipur government and representatives of ZUF signed the "Cessation of Operation" agreement in the presence of the Chief Minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh.