The Telegraph
Sunday , January 26 , 2014
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Medals highlight talks contradiction

New Delhi, Jan. 25: As the government and the militants smoke the peace pipe in New Delhi, medals awarded on Republic Day remind of hostilities in the Northeast that pose a challenge to the peace initiatives.

As NSCN (Isak-Muivah) leaders await an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a CRPF constable who laid down his life fighting NSCN rebels in the 2012 Manipur Assembly elections has been conferred the Presidentís Police Medal for Gallantry (PPMG).

Constable Ugrasen Tripathi of 155 Battalion was deployed at a polling booth at Tempi in Chandel district where NSCN militants opened fire. Tripathi, who was positioned near the entrance, challenged a militant who entered the booth and fired with his Kalashnikov. He fought despite getting hit on the neck and made the ultimate sacrifice for his motherland.

Constable Ali Hassan, who was positioned near the window behind the polling booth building, saw a militant pointing his M-20 pistol at the polling officer. ď(He) opened fire from his AK-47 rifle on the militant, later identified as Behenson Nula, son of Dalkhal Nula, a hardcore NSCN (I-M) militant, and killed him instantly,Ē a CRPF release said today. Hassan has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Major Mandeep Singh Ghumman of 1 Assam Rifles has been awarded the Shaurya Chakra (for exceptional bravery) also for ďanti-terrorist operationsĒ in the Northeast.

Tripathi is one of the two CRPF soldiers posthumously conferred the PPMG. Constable Santosh Kumar Singh of 209 CoBRA eliminated a hostile group of Naxals on September 2 last year in the Saranda forests. He fought and got killed amid heavy machine gunfire.

Tripathiís case brings forth the contradiction of clashes and talks with Naga rebels.

Although operations against Naga rebels have often been awarded in the past, this yearís announcement stands out in the face of drastic ups and downs in the 17-year-old negotiation.

Without an interlocutor for a month now, there are signs of the dialogue with Naga rebels floundering again. After R.S. Pandey left the position of interlocutor to join the BJP, the government has put off a decision of choosing a name from four probable candidates.

The agreement with the NSCN (I-M), however, is limited only to Nagaland while the rebels have a presence in the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

As uncertainty looms amid an uncompromising position taken by the outfit on integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas, the government has apparently sent a firm message against it. The obstacle is Manipur, home to Muivah and where the Meitei-dominated Imphal valley is opposed to the NSCNís agenda of a united homeland for the Nagas.

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