By Pradip Phanjoubam
IMPHAL, Oct 20: â€œIt now seems most likely true that the United National Liberation Front, UNLF, chairman R.K.Meghen was arrested by the Bangladesh police,â€ said Union home secretary, GK Pillai, in an interview at the Raj Bhavan today before he left for New Delhi by a special flight this afternoon.
He however insisted that there is no truth in the report that the UNLF leader, also known as Sanayaima, has already been extradited to India by a special Indian plane. â€œI have been misinterpreted in some sections of the media in Imphal, charging me of contradicting myself on this point. I had meant that India had no officially confirmed information of the arrest when I said India had no knowledge of the matter.â€
â€œIt does now seem, Sanayaima had been arrested,â€ the home secretary added.
As to whether India would take up the matter to have Sanayaima extradited, he said the Government of India would do so, and probably the preparations to make formal inquiries have already begun in the three days he has been away from New Delhi.
He said India would pursue the matter suo motto on the basis of media reports and the clarification by the UNLF vice chairman, even if the Bangladesh government does not voluntarily seek Indiaâ€™s intervention in the case.
However, he said extradition to India may take time as it will first have to be ascertained under what charges the UNLF chairman had been arrested and the nature of the cases slapped on him by the Bangladesh authorities, Pillai said.
Once in India it will also have to be ascertained as to what cases exist against him in India, he added.
He mentioned that interrogation of other arrested UNLF functionaries in the recent past has revealed adequately that the organisation has been expanding its business investment network in various cities in India and countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, and today owns a number of profitable businesses, including shopping malls in Guwahati.
Meanwhile, the IFP learnt from an independent source that even the INTERPOL, the international policing institution, with which there is a Red Corner notice against the UNLF chairman, warranting his arrest wherever in the world he is spotted, has no knowledge of Sanayaimaâ€™s transfer to India.
The INTERPOL had provided this information from its office in New York to an email query by a journalist through the organisationâ€™s contact address provided on its official website, www.interpol.int
On whether the peace talks with the NSCN(IM) is getting stuck, the Union home secretary said it is not. At the moment, the process is paused because the NSCN(IM) chairman, Th. Muivah is indisposed and in hospitalised. The interlocutor is also in American to be with his daughter.
â€œThere will have to be an amicable and honourable solution found, in the spirit of give and take, and Muivah will have to know what he has to give up too for the talks to be successful,â€ Pillai said.
On the issue of the demand for a separate administration by the United Naga Council, UNC, Pillai said the UNC will have to decide whether what they are demanding is a model for a solution to the Naga problem. If it is, the government would be most willing to discuss in earnest.
â€œYou cannot forward the 6th Schedule autonomous administration model as a solution to the Naga problem by the UNC and then the NSCN(IM) continues to negotiate a different autonomy model,â€ Pillai said. â€œEverybody will however have to have an honourable way out without losing face,â€ he added.
He said the Suspension of Operations, SoO, agreement with Kuki militant groups is also progressing well. The concern now is how to accommodate the former militant cadres into the establishment. â€œAt present a batch of them are undergoing training in various skills so that they can fit into the society. More will follow till all have been given means to a livelihood,â€ Pillai further added.
Pillai said he is convinced decentralising development and administrative responsibilities is the key to many of these problems. The Manipur government is now thinking of devolution of more financial and political power to the Autonomous District Councils, ADCs, and this is a step in the right direction.
The hill districts should try this model out and if it is still felt to be inadequate, something else should be thought of.
Pillai, who has been conducting a series of developmental seminars in Manipur said in the end, much of the solution to the problems in Manipur and the northeast hinges on governance he said. This depends crucially on the ability of the administration to take bold informed decisions.
â€œThe district magistrate is paid Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 90,000 a month precisely to take these decisions. His job is to ensure his assigned job is done within deadline. He has to be able to handle responsibility and be aware he is accountable,â€ he said.
In the Ukhrul seminar held yesterday he said it came to light that the repair of a particular road was held up for one and half years because of a dispute between two contractors. After one and a half year, the district administration decided to cancel the contract and float the tenders for the job again. â€œWhat kept the government waiting for one and a half year to come to the decision,â€ Pillai said in exasperation.
From these seminars, it has become clear how important the ability to take administrative decisions is, he said.
â€œIt is necessary to listen to advice but it is not possible to wait for concurrence of all departments and parties before a decision is taken, for in this case the decision will never be taken,â€ he said. â€œThis is where the personal integrity of the officer will count. He must exercise his good judgement, to make the decision after taking into consideration the inputs of information given to him from different quarters.â€
â€œWaiting for total concurrence of opinion would amount to dilution of responsibility, even if it means avoiding accountability in the case of something going wrong,â€ Pillai said.
Taking the Ukhrul road tender case, he said if the decision had been taken one and half years ago, there would already have been time to correct mistakes even if mistakes were made,â€ he said.
He said one more thing he has learnt from these seminars is that it is vital to involve local communities in the administrative projects. For this empowering local bodies is extremely important, he added.
This will give a sense of participation and belongingness of the local population to the governmentâ€™s development projects.
The state will also have to put its house in order to be on track. Commenting on the everyday turmoil the ordinary men and women in the state has to undergo, Pillai took the example of power shortage. â€œImphal East gets on the average four hours electricity a day, and Ukhrul is even worse off with only two hours of power supplyâ€, he said.
â€œThe state needs 150 MW a day and is managing with only 80 MW. The fact is, power is available in the national grid for the state to acquire. The only stumbling block is the transmission lines for augmented power supply is not ready,â€ Pillai lamented.
â€œThis is unfortunate. Because of this kind of poor governance, the burden is on the people. Numerous small businesses (therefore many self employed) who depend on power are in extreme difficulties,â€ he said.
He said in this Kerala is way ahead of any other states in India in decentralised governance. In Kerala, 40 percent of the total state budget, plan as well as non-plan funds, is left as grant in aid to local self governments. Administrative matters like maintenance of government schools, primary health centres, are with the local bodies, making them responsible. Since they are also directly answerable to the immediate community, they also tend to be more accountable, he said.
By Pradip Phanjoubam