Maj Gen Kochekkan clarifies his meeting with Kitovi, seeks understanding

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By Oken Jeet Sandham

KOHIMA, Oct 13 (NEPS): Chairman of the Cease Fire Supervisory Board (CFSB) Maj Gen (Retd) Eppen Jacob Kochekkan has denied charges made by the NSCN/GPRN (Khaplang) that he had “direct inclination” towards GPRN/NSCN (Khole-Kitovi).

The NSCN (Khaplang) in a statement on Sunday alleged that the CFSB Chairman, after the June 7 split of NSCN (K), changed his color towards GPRN/NSCN (Khole-Kitovi). The NSCN (K) even went to the extent of appealing to the Government of India to appoint a “neutral man who can act judiciously, impartially and transparently” in the larger interest of both entities.

In an interview with NEPS here today, Maj Gen Kochekkan, while denying the charges made by the NSCN (K), made it clear that his frequent meetings with leaders of both the factions were necessitated following the split in the NSCN (K) on June 7.

“Such meetings were essential because I strongly believe that when two brothers are fighting, it is bitter fight, since they know each other well,” Maj Gen Kochkkan said. “Moreover, the most important thing for me is, under no circumstances, violence should be permitted to start.” There had been in the past that splits took place followed by bloodsheds. “But this is the first incident where not a drop of blood was shed,” he explained.

These were, he narrated, largely because of the overwhelming desire of the Naga people for having durable peace; the extremely balanced and mature handling of the situation by the Center and the State Government; the sagacity of the leadership of both factions; the astute handling of situations by the civil administrations, law enforcement agencies and intelligent agencies; the extremely positive role played by the tribal hohos, church leaders, frontal organizations and FNR; and lastly the interventions in various potential areas by the Chairman of the CFSB. “It is a combination of all these that had assured that nothing unwanted happened,” Maj Gen Kochakkan stated. “Yet the peace remained
fragile.”“So we need to nature it by continuous dialogues with leaders of both factions to reach to understanding,” he said. “Because, I strongly believe that once violence starts, there is no victory. It only vanquishes.”

Maj Gen Kochekkan also said he went to meet Kitovi, Ato Kilonser of the undivided NSCN (K), on June 6 at Khehoi prior to the split in NSCN (K) took place. “It was a courtesy call to the Ato Kilonser,” he said.

“Perhaps those leaders who are now in the NSCN (Khaplang) were present during that my meeting with Kitovi at Khehoi on June 6.”

Maj Gen Kochekkan also said a couple of weeks after the split in the NSCN (K), Kitovi asked him to meet him (Kitovi) at Khehoi. “So I said it will not be correct on my part to meet you at Khehoi. Because the other side will see it differently,” he further clarified. “So neutral venue was suggested by him and for me I don’t know even the place,” the CFSB Chairman said. “But it was in a private house, little away from Chumukedima.”

“But I don’t go clandestine. It was with my staff officer and escort parties etc.” he added.

“What the NSCN (Khaplang) left things unanswered were that I met more leaders of them (NSCN-Khaplang) than leaders of NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) after the June 7 split in NSCN (K),” he added.

Calling upon members of any groups not to misunderstand his role as already explained, Maj Gen Kochekkan said he understood that many leaders in the NSCN (Khaplang) were comparatively younger in age. “I understand their impatience as they wanted to happen things at fast pace,” he said.

Seeking their understanding that an “inclusive approach to issues requires time,” Maj Gen Kochekkan said any decision, they pursued, should be accepted by all the stakeholders. He also said he had a great belief in their ability to lead them along in the path of peace and welfare of the Naga people.

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