On 10 January 2012, NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah were on their way from their camp at Hebron to Swu`s home town, Zunheboto in a large convoy of about 70 vehicles, when they were stopped and prevented to go any further by Assam Rifles personnel.
Expressing anger over the development, former `military chief` of NSCN-IM VS Atem in a press conference few days later in Dimapur such a restriction by Ministry of Home Affairs amounted to violation the ground rules of the ceasefire.
“The Government of India wants to solve the Naga political problem.
The Nagas want the solution.
However, if we don`t meet our people for consultation how can we move forward in solving the problem ?” fumed Atem.
Meanwhile, Wati Aier, convener of Forum for Naga Reconciliation conveyed this news to John Sundquist, member of UK based Naga Conciliation Group and Quakers Friends Society and complained about “massive deployment of Indian Army near Hebron Camp….. created difficulties for movement of NSCN-IM cadres to and from the Orthodox Theological Seminary (OTS)” and about him being frisked by the Indian Army twice, on his way to and from OTS every day. Aier further requested Sundquist to issue a statement widely to media in the name of a groups such as ‘Friends of the Nagas’ or ‘Naga Solidarity Group’, on the present situation in Nagaland. Interestingly, he specifically requested not to involve the Baptist community while issuing the statement . The suggested draft of the statement was: “The world community has followed the ‘Peace Process’ between the Government of India and the Naga people under the leadership of the NSCN with hope. While we (Friends of the Nagas / Naga Solidarity Group) still remain hopeful of dawning of a new era, the restriction imposed upon the NSCN leadership from traveling to Zunheboto, is ‘undemocratic and contrary to the Cease Fire agreement’…. we urge the concerned government to act favorably”.
While the Centre’s indulgence of NSCN (IM) leaders resulted in over three months blockades in Manipur in 2010 and 2011, not only has the group been trigger happy, but is also very ‘trigger hungry’, so to speak. One of the orders the outfit is pursuing is of 800 wpns worth USD 1.2 million, a deal struck by Anthony Shimray with the Chinese company TCL. The outfit enlisted Frans Welman, Secretary, Naga International Support Centre (NISC), Netherlands to negotiate with TCL on its behalf and has reportedly visited China for the same. This not only makes an utter mockery not only of the peace process and ground-rules of the cease fire, but also of NSCN (IM)’s talk of “honour”, exposes its duality and deviousness of NSCN(IM) and also tantamount to letting down the Naga people.
Not only has NSCN-IM not laid down arms during 15 years of cease fire and peace process, it is also actively pursuing acquisition of sophisticated Chinese weapons for replenishment of its armoury and for selling to Naxal-Maoists, it also continues speaking in different tongues in New Delhi and Nagaland. On January 31, Swu issued a statement at an annual NSCN ceremony in Nagaland, stating: “The integration of Nagaland is our birthright….Every Naga is expected to participate in our struggle for the integration of Nagalim. ”
On February 6, Director General of Assam Rifles Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy, touring the state and talking to reporters on the sidelines of a visit to Sainik School, Pangei, admitted to regular violations of cease-fire ground rules by cadres of NSCN-IM and stated that the ceasefire is still prevailing baring the intermittent breaches and gave reassurances on the security forces’ commitment to fully enforce the basic guidelines. He said, militants flouting the ground rules have been booked and handed over to right law enforcement agencies as the paramilitary cannot act directly and the established democratic set of laws have to be followed. NSCN-IM cadres were accused of firing, abduction and intimidation in favour of candidates belonging to the NPF during Manipur Assembly elections, held on January 28. Union home minister P. Chidambaram reportedly admitted that the NSCN-IM indulged in kidnapping and other unlawful activities despite holding talks with the Centre.
Some incidents during February 2012 are worth noting.
Assam Rifles arrested six cadres of NSCN-IM during the raid of a house of one `major` Yimkachang of NSCN-IM at Yimyu Ward, Mokokchung District. Three .22 revolvers and two pistols were seized from them. The arrestees were identified as Aluba Ao, Zulu, Among Imchen, Atiba, Wati Lkr and Imli Nochet. SFs arrested one `captain` of NSCN-IM, identified as Kaphung Koi Muinao, from Sewak Colony of Dimapur along with arms and ammunition, for violation of Cease Fire Ground Rules (CFGR), arrested one Mathew while collecting `tax` from Diphupar village and recovered INR 155,500 collected as tax and collection receipts from him, arrested two NSCN-IM militants identified as Swapon (30) and Shikaya Sema (28) while collecting `tax` from near Sukhavi village.
On February 16, former Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai reportedly revealed that the policy of politically resolving the Naga issue ongoing on for several decades, would include the entire Naga society. In an interview, he is reported to have said, “all have to endorse the agreement, from the gaon burhas (village headmen) to civil society groups… none should be able to turn around and say after some years that they were kept in the dark and hence would not accept the agreement.” On the talks with the NSCN-IM, dragging since 1997, he added that a settlement could be expected later in 2012. Considering all ground realities, that sounds rather optimistic.
On February 10, it was reported that Anthony Shimray, ‘Head of Foreign Affairs of the NSCN-IM’ and nephew of Muivah, was produced before the Special Court of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) at Patiala House, New Delhi for his lead role in negotiating with Chinese intelligence agencies for large supplies of weapons . The Asian Age had elaborated on his arrest by NIA at the Indo-Nepal border in September 2010 on charges of illegal procurement and supply of arms and his revelations.
Several Naga civil society organizations appealed to the Union Government through a joint representation addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging for immediate release of Shimray, in “greater interest of peace and respect for his rights and dignity”. The representatives include Naga Hoho (the apex organisation of the Nagas), United Naga Council, Naga Mothers` Association, Naga Women`s Union, Naga Students` Federation, All Naga Students` Association Manipur and Naga People`s Movement for Human Rights. Do his rights include anti-Indian activities?
On January 25, 2011, Wang Qing, a Chinese spy disguised as a TV reporter, was arrested and deported after she reportedly visited the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) or NSCN-IM. Indian authorities said Qing admitted to being a spy for the People`s Security Bureau, a Chinese intelligence agency, and that she had conducted a secretive four-hour-long, closed-door meeting with Thuingaleng Muivah. Qing had apparently attempted to pass herself off as a traveling representative of a Chinese timber concern, a Naga student, or a Hong Kong television journalist, depending on whom she encountered. On inspection of her laptop by Indian authorities, it was discovered she had photos of herself with Muivah, Prachanda, head of Nepal`s Maoists, and members of the Kachin Independence Army, an ethnic separatist movement in Myanmar that Delhi believes has acted as a channel for Chinese arms to Naga rebel armies in decades past. Qing was detained in Dimapur, and transported back to Delhi for questioning. Qing was “quietly” deported back to China rather than be put on trial in India, for obvious reasons. But Qing’s case is only one of several recently that suggest an attempt by Beijing to step up efforts at undermining peace and increasing leverage over India as both countries grapple with sensitive border negotiations.
Mr Pillai’s reported remarks on the Chinese connection are noteworthy-. “There was evidence that insurgents from northeast India were meeting Chinese intelligence officials regularly in Yunnan (China) and in Nepal. We tracked top NSCN arms procurer Anthony Shimray who had ordered a massive supply of weapons. The procedures involved in shipment, export orders, regulatory compliances, etc are impossible without China`s involvement,” Intelligence reports say fresh consignments comprising weapons like Heckler and Koch rifles (HK 33), T81 rifles – have landed in the hands of the Northeast terrorist in substantial numbers.
On January 19, 2011, it was reported that three Chinese nationals were arrested in Uttar Pradesh close to India`s border with Nepal, on suspicion of money laundering and spying on border security camps. Media quoted a local police officer Sanjay Kakkar saying that the accused, including a woman, said they were employees of Chinese telecoms equipment maker, Huawei Technologies. “We arrested them for trespassing as we found them on Indian soil without a valid Indian visa,” Kakkar said, adding the three were caught taking photographs of border guards installations.
NSCN-IM has also been interfering in Arunachal Pradesh’s political affairs. It played a major role in toppling former chief minister Jarbom Gamlin last year. NSCN-IM forced at least five Congress legislators to desert Mr Gamlin, who shortly afterwards resigned after completing just 180 days of rule. This newspaper had reported that coal mafias involved in rampant illegal mining in the state were alleged to have been instigating the Naga rebels to topple the Gamlin government. If insiders are to be believed, 19 MLAs were genuinely opposed to Mr Gamlin but another five, who shifted their loyalty from Mr Gamlin, were said to have been under the pressure of NSCN-IM. Congress insiders said that at least 24 legislators, including some ministers, formally approached the party high command, demanding a change in leadership. The Congress has 42 legislators in the 60-member House. Regretting that rampant mining of coal in Kharsang area of Changlang district is the prime source of money that has been feeding Naga rebels besides controlling the politics of frontier state, security sources said that NSCN-IM continues to maintain its domination on Tirap and Changlang districts of the frontier states. NSCN-IM, reportedly pursuing the agenda of coal mafias, came to focus first during former Arunachal CM Mukut Mithi’s regime as then CM of Arunachal Gegong Apang accused Naga rebels of toppling his government.
If NSCN-IM’s role in causing two blockades in Manipur over and above continuous extortion and violence are examples of its disruptive activities within the country, its contacts with both Chinese and Pakistani intelligence agencies are serious threats to national security. Need it be re-emphasized that New Delhi must do much, much more to overcome much that it has never done before?