After the release of two key leaders of the agitation against the project to establish a power grid at Bhangar in South 24 Paraganas, the agitators have said they will intensify the protest next week. Sarmistha Chowdhury and Pradeep Singh Thakur, charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were freed on Tuesday after they were granted bail by the Calcutta High Court. Both belong to the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Red Star. “The agitation will become stronger in future,” Ms. Chowdhury told journalists after she came out of the Alipore jail.Leaders of the Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Poribesh Raksha Committee (Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment), which is spearheading the agitation in Bhangar, said the release of Ms. Chowdhury and Mr. Thakur was a boost to the stir. “We will intensify it from next week with rallies and demonstrations,” they said. Violence erupted again in Bhangar after a TMC leader was shot dead on Sunday. Bhangar has been tense for the past couple of months after the villagers started the protest. On January 18, two persons were shot dead during a clash between the agitators and the police.
The Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN(I-M), once the fountainhead of extremism in the Northeast, has appointed a chief almost three years after the death of its founder-chairman Isak Chishi Swu.The faction is named after Swu, who died at 86 in June 2016 after a prolonged illness, and its general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah.An NSCN(I-M) spokesperson said the collective leadership appointed Qhehezu Tuccu as the chairman and Tongmeth Konyak as vice-chairman during an assembly at Camp Hebron, the faction’s headquarters near Nagaland’s Dimapur town. Mr. Konyak fills the post vacated by Khole Konyak, who died in December last year.A close associateThe two were handed over charge in the presence of Mr. Muivah. Mr. Tuccu has been a close associate of Swu and Mr. Muivah for years. Like his predecessor, he belongs to the Sumi community that dominates Dimapur district. Most of the members of NSCN(I-M) are Manipur-based Tangkhuls, the community Mr. Muivah is from.The NSCN was formed in January 1980 by extremists who did not accept the Shillong Accord of 1975 between New Delhi and the Naga National Council that had been fighting a separatist war since the 1950s. But the NSCN split in 1988, one led by the Myanmar-based S.S. Khaplang and the other by Isak-Muivah.The NSCN(I-M) has been pursuing a peace process with the Indian government but a final settlement has been elusive. The Khaplang faction of the NSCN too joined the peace process in 2001 but walked out of it in March 2015.