SoO Mantra

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The government of India representatives has all along been saying that it would take up appropriate action against those groups violating the agreed ground rules of either ceasefire or suspension of operations. We will not discuss here the action taken report of the government of India as we have still not seen any action so far. What matters most is that the Indian government has not spelled out in clear terms as to what kind of action they are proposing to take up in case of violation of the ground rules takes place. We have heard enough warnings of actions being taken up in the meetings of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committees, yet actions do not follow. The groups also know that the warnings are simply meant for those who are demanding action and thus the groups seldom takes such warnings seriously. We shall not mention cases of armed incursions in the state of Manipur by the NSCN groups as the ceasefire is not in operation in the state. Besides running a parallel government in the Naga dominated areas, it had opened three base camps inside the state of Manipur which had come out in the open during the Shiroi standoff between Assam Rifles and the NSCN-IM. There are several reports of the NSCN groups resorting to extortion and forcible taxation in Nagaland specially in the case of Manipur bound trucks, besides instances of cadres moving in uniform with arms in various towns of Nagaland since the groups entered into ceasefire agreements with the Indian government. There are also cases of standoffs between the NSCN and paramilitary forces specially the Assam Rifles. These cases have been discussed in the meetings of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Cells and warnings have supposedly been given. Despite the supposed warnings, the groups continue to violate the ground rules. In such a backdrop, the Union Home Ministry’s warnings to the signatories of the SoO agreements remain a joke. The complaints of intervention by SoO groups in the recent Manipur Legislative Assembly elections from both political parties and individuals remains to be addressed either by the Election Commission of India or the Union Home Ministry. The Home Ministry has acknowledged the receipt of such complaints. Yet, it is still confused to what action they are supposed to take up. Which is simply why, the Ministry officials are engaging in mere rhetoric.

On the other hand, the most interesting part of the Home Ministry official’s statement is regarding his ignorance of the ideology and demands of the various Kuki groups who have signed the SoO agreement. Joint Secretary Shambhu Singh of the Home Ministry on the sidelines of the signing of tripartite agreement with two new groups United Tribal Liberation Army (UTLA) and Pakan Reunification Army (PRA) had said, most of these groups have been operating to make money and make the life of people miserable and that he do not know if the groups have any ideology. The statement while not only exposing the attitude of the state towards those groups with whom they had signed the SoO agreements, also reveals how the Indian government operates while dealing with such groups. The Indian government’s main concern is how to ‘immobilize’ such groups and gain brownie points. Immobilization had become a misnomer in the post-SoO phase with most of the militant groups operating at will from the designated camps with the security forces and the police turning a blind eye to the gross violation of the ground rules. The state is not worried as long as there are no complaints. They are only concerned about the statement they could regularly make to the press and the public that they have been able to successfully rein in militant groups operating in the northeastern region. It is their mantra. They are not concerned about the other realities which are threatening the region.

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