Over the borderline: On Centre’s role in resolving Assam-Mizoram row

The drawing down of tensions between Assam and Mizoram, at least at the leadership level, with the respective governments announcing the withdrawal of FIRs against the Chief Minister of Assam and a Rajya Sabha MP from Mizoram, among other steps, comes as a great relief. These actions followed the deaths of six policemen and a civilian from Assam in a violent gunfight in the border town of Vairengte in Mizoram on July 26, which exacerbated an already fraught situation between the States. The retaliatory actions such as filing FIRs against prominent representatives, at a time when locals in the Barak Valley in Assam had already imposed a blockade, disallowing trucks with essential goods from entering Mizoram, seemed to indicate that the States’ leaderships were throwing away their scabbards, militating against their own moves to restore calm. After all, the governments had taken the right decision to withdraw their police forces from a four-kilometre “disputed stretch” and let it be

Tigray’s woes: On the conflict in Ethiopia’s north

When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray, the country’s northern-most region, in November 2020, he promised it would be a short campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Seven months later, when Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew, Mr. Abiy was indirectly accepting defeat. Government troops are now facing serious allegations of war crimes as bodies wash up in a river in Sudan that borders Ethiopia. The federal troops had initially ousted the TPLF from Mekele, the Tigrayan capital, and established a parallel government. But the TPLF retreated to the mountains, and then struck back. In June, it recaptured Mekele, forcing the federal troops to pull back. At least in defeat, Mr. Abiy could have accepted his mistakes and sought a settlement. But instead, he announced a blockade on Tigray, with even international aid deliveries stopped. The UN says at least 3,50,000 people are facing a “severe food crisis” in the region. The TPLF

Circumscription: on security clearances for passport or government jobs

Police verification and security clearances for passport or government job applicants are a matter of routine in most parts of the country. In Kashmir, where the police have now issued a circular aimed at gathering details and denying security clearance to those involved in throwing stones and joining street protests in the past, the exercise may not be out of the ordinary, but it could result in serious prejudice to the aspirations of many young men and women. The circular, which asks CID Special Branch field units to ensure that any subject’s involvement in law-and-order incidents and related crimes be specifically looked into, and also to collect digital evidence from the records of police and security forces, suggests that the administration is quite serious about preventing those with a likely link to protests in the past from either entering government service or travelling abroad. Reports suggest that the official list of street protesters swelled between 2008 and 2017 to


Time and patience: On England vs India Test series

Just as Indian hockey’s Olympic tryst draws rightful attention in Tokyo, Virat Kohli’s men will don whites and play their Test series in England. The first Test commencing at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on Wednesday will kick-start a five-match joust stretching all the way to September 14. Due to bio-bubble protocols and the World Test Championship final that India lost to New Zealand at Southampton on June 23, Kohli and company have been in England since June first week. Perhaps, this is the longest an Indian squad has stayed overseas prior to an opening Test and there was adequate time to get acclimatised. After the contest involving New Zealand, the players took a break, savoured the countryside, Euro and Wimbledon, and added zest to their Instagram accounts. They then reverted to the bubble and had a warm-up fixture against a County Select XI. Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant recovered from COVID-19, an injured Shubman Gill returned home, and Mayank Agarwal suffered a concussion and was ruled


The cusp: on disconcerting note of coronavirus story

August has begun on a disconcerting note in India’s coronavirus story. The seven-day weekly average of cases hovers around the psychologically important 40,000 mark and there is an uptick in daily new cases with the latest numbers a little over 41,000. A major concern that has assumed national proportions is the trajectory of cases in Kerala. With nearly 20,000 fresh cases being added every day, it is of concern that if a State with an admirable track record during the earlier wave is under siege now, then many other States could be particularly vulnerable against new variants at the start of a third wave. In Kerala, the rise in cases is concomitant with a rise in testing that has increased from 130,000 a day on July 25 to 162,000 as of Monday, indicating that the infection may be rapidly spreading. Nearly 11 States are now showing a weekly increase in cases. Kerala is not the only point of concern. The national situation has prompted the Health Secretary to write to States that all

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Virulence and variance: On post-pandemic economic strains

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