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‘Can’t go back to Myanmar, Army won’t let us live,’ say refugees

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Lawngtlai:Around 300 refugees, mostly Arakan (Rakhine) Buddhists, who fled Myanmar in November last year following the military crackdown on the Arakan rebels, have refused to go back despite the Mizoram government having stopped supplies of essential food items to them in February.
“The Myanmar Army will not let us live and earn if we go back,” said Khima-U, who hails from the border village of Varang in Myanmar’s Chin State.
The 46-year-old was one of the nearly 1,400 refugees who had originally taken shelter in four border villages in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district — Laitlang, Hmawngbuchhua, Zochachhua, and Dumzautlang. More than 900 refugees have since returned to their homes, according to officials.
While the Hmangbuchhua village council claims there are 343 refugees still living there, an official of Assam Rifles said there are only 298 refugees left.
Khima-U, among the many refugees who constructed bamboo houses since moving into this village 4km away from the border in Lawngtlai district, about 300km south of Aizawl, says “life is better here”.
He works as a daily wager by helping villagers in jhum (shifting) cultivation, earning Rs 150 a day.
Some others have joined the work as daily wagers on the 87km road connecting Lawngtlai town and Zorinpui, a proposed border crossing points with Myanmar part of the ambitious Kaladan multi-modal transport project.
“They (the refugees) came in speed boats,” said Chemgsa-U, president of the Hmangbuchhua village council, pointing to the Sekulh Lui river which flows along the village.
“They are of the same tribe as us. They are Rakhine people like us,” he said, while narrating how the villagers could hear gunshots from the fighting across the border.
The fighting has since stopped but the refugees are refusing to go, something the local Lais, the dominant community of the Lai Autonomous District Council, have become wary of.
“We do not want them to live here forever. They should go back,” said J Sangahangpuia, president of Central Young Lai Association, an NGO.
“Moreover, they follow a different religion, which could lead to conflicts in the future.”
Most Lais follow Christianity and speak Mizo or the Lai dialect while the group of refugees speak Rakhine.
“We gave them hospitality for we don’t want bad relations with the Arakan people. The success of the Kaladan project depends on the cooperation from the Arakan people,” he says.
Chemgsa-U admitted to the villagers’ reluctance, saying that arranging food for the refugees has become a problem.
Some are also suspicious. “Many of them could be Arakan Army fighters,” said J Sangahangpuia. A Lai leader showed HT a WhatsApp conversation with someone who identified himself as a central committee member of the Arakan Army.
The conversation, whose authenticity couldn’t verify, shows an Arakan Army leader urging to stop the district administration from sending back the refugees.


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National

‘Every shining sun has to set’: Shiv Sena on Amit Shah replacing Advani

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Mumbai: The Shiv Sena Saturday said L K Advani would remain the “tallest leader” of the BJP irrespective of his poll presence, two days after the party nominated its chief Amit Shah from Gandhinagar, a seat represented by the BJP patriarch.

In an editorial in the party mouthpiece “Saamana”, the Sena said Shah contesting in place of Advani is politically translated as the ‘Bhishmacharya’ of Indian politics being “forced” to retire.

“Lal Krishna Advani is known as the ‘Bhishmacharya’ of Indian politics, but his name does not feature in the list of BJP’s candidates for Lok Sabha polls, which is not surprising,” the edit said.

 

The Sena said the development underlined that the BJP’s Advani era has come to an end. “Advani has been elected from Gujarat’s Gandhinagar constituency six times.

Now, Amit Shah will be contesting from that seat.

This simply means Advani has been forced to retire,” the editorial said. Marking a generational shift in the BJP, the party recently announced candidature of Shah, who will be contesting his debut parliamentary election, from Gandhinagar. Advani, 91, had served as Union home minister and deputy prime minister.

He won the Gandhinagar seat six times.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP to a massive victory in 2014 and Shah was made the party president, Advani was made a member of Margdarshak Mandal (group of mentors).

The Sena said, “Advani was one of the founding members of the BJP, who along with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee steered the rath of the party ahead.

“But today, Modi and Shah have taken the place of them (Vajpayee and Advani). An environment has already been created in the party to ensure that seniors do not get any responsibility this time,” it stated.

The Sena further said Advani has played a “long innings” in politics and would remain the “tallest leader” of the BJP. The Sena is contesting the next month’s Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP.

The Sena said it didn’t believe that a leader retains his top position only if he continues to be in active politics.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party also attacked the Congress which has said the Gandhinagar seat has been snatched from Advani. “The party (Congress) should not talk about insult to elders.

The then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, who had steered the Congress governments in difficult times, was insulted by the party even after his death,” it said.

The Sena also referred to the 2013 incident when Rahul Gandhi tore an ordinance (on protecting convicted lawmakers) in the presence of the then prime minister Manmohan Singh.

“What happened with Sitaram Kesari (former Congress president who was succeeded by Sonia Gandhi)?….Therefore it does not suit the Congress to talk about respecting elders,” the Sena said.

Praising Advani, the Sena said he was responsible for expanding the BJP’s footprint across the country.

“Every shining sun has to set. The BJP could reach the top because of Advani’s ‘Rath yatra’ in Ayodhya in 1990s. The BJP is reaping (dividends) because of Advani’s toil,” the Sena said.

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Efforts of regional parties to form grand alliance with Cong reprehensible: Modi

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday dubbed as “reprehensible” efforts of regional parties to form a grand alliance with the Congress, saying socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia would be “horrified” as most of these parties claim to be his followers.

In a blog to mark the 109th birth anniversary of Lohia, Modi alleged, “Today those parties that falsely claim to be Dr. Lohia’s followers are desperate to form an opportunistic ‘maha-milawat’ or adulteration alliances with the same Congress (which Lohia opposed). It is both ironical and reprehensible.”

Today is a day to honour revolutionaries. We pay tributes to great sons of Mother India Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru for their ultimate sacrifice. We bow to a prolific thinker, exceptional inte

 

The Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal-Secular, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal, which will merge with the RJD after the Lok Sabha polls, were some of the parties formed on socialist ideology.

On the other hand, Modi said Lohia would be “proud” of the NDA government led by the BJP for following his ideas. “Dr Lohia’s thoughts inspire us. He wrote about modernising agriculture and empowering farmers, which the NDA government is effectively doing through efforts such as PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Krishi Sinchai Yojana, e-Nam, Soil Health Cards and more,” he said in the blog shared on Twitter.

Referring to gender inequality, the prime minister said nothing pained Lohia more than the caste hierarchy and inequality between women and men.

“But neck deep in vote bank politics, it was parties that dishonestly claim to be Dr Lohia’s followers that opposed the NDA government’s move to abolish the inhuman practice of triple talaq,” he alleged. Hitting out at the Congress, Modi said whenever Lohia spoke, the Congress “trembled with fear”.

He said Lohia had once claimed that during the Congress regime neither agriculture and industry nor the Army improved. “These words can accurately describe even subsequent Congress regimes, where farmers were harassed, industry was discouraged (except if they belonged to friends and relatives of Congress leaders) and national security was ignored,” the PM wrote. Noting that anti-Congressism was Lohia’s “heart and soul”, Modi said, “Unfortunately, today Lohia would be horrified at the political developments taking place.”

“Those parties that claim inspiration from Lohia have completely abandoned his principles. They are leaving no opportunity to insult him… Lohia always believed that dynastic politics was inimical to democracy. He would have been flabbergasted to see his ‘followers’ think about their own families first instead of the nation,” he wrote. Modi alleged that these parties are “experts at grabbing power, looting as much as possible and exploiting others.

Poor people, tribals, Dalits, OBCs and women are not safe in their rule because these parties give a free run to criminals and anti-social elements.”

He said people should realise as to how can those who betrayed Lohia be expected to serve the nation. “Today they are betraying the principles of Dr Lohia, tomorrow they will also betray the people of India,” Modi alleged.

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‘People will not forgive Oppn’: PM after Pitroda raises questions on strike

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New Delhi: Reacting to Pitroda’s comment, PM Modi said, “Opposition insults our forces time and again. I appeal to my fellow Indians- question Opposition leaders on their statements. Tell them- 130 crore Indians will not forgive or forget the Opposition for their antics. India stands firmly with our forces.”
“Loyal courtier of Congress’ royal dynasty admits what the nation already knew- Congress was unwilling to respond to forces of terror. This is a New India- we will answer militants in a language they understand and with interest,” read another tweet posted by PM Modi.
Minutes after PM Modi’s attack, Pitroda clarified his remarks stating that he was speaking in personal capacity and not on the behalf of the Congress party.
“I just said as a citizen I am entitled to know what happened. I am not talking on behalf of party, just speaking as a citizen. I have right to know, what is wrong in it,” news agency ANI quoted Pitroda as saying.
The prime minister also hit out at Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav, who on Thursday said that Pulwama attack was a “conspiracy” in which “soldiers were killed for votes”.
“Opposition is the natural habitat of terror apologists and questioners of our armed forces. This reprehensible statement by a senior leader like Ram Gopal Ji insults all those who have given their lives in protecting Kashmir. It humiliates the families of our martyrs,” PM Modi wrote on Twitter.
A CRPF convoy was targeted in a suicide bombing on February 14 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama killing 40 soldiers. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.
On February 26, the IAF carried a strike at a camp, believed to be the biggest training centre of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan’s Balakot. The IAF later said that the mission was “successful”, which Pakistan denied.

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