Talks With Undergrounds And Their Tactics On Ground

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By Anil Bhat

One cannot but lament at how a state so rich in its heritage of culture, sports and arts is held to ransom by a deadly combination of lack of development and progress; armed groups which began as classic insurgencies but converted to terrorism, extortion, murder and even treachery; corruption; vote-bank based politcs; foot-dragging  bureaucracy; poorly trained and led police force etc, etc.

One of the major terrorist groups, National Socialist Council of  Nagalim – Isaac Muivah faction (NSCN-IM), which has been in a state of  cease-fire with security forces and engaged in talks with the central government since August 1997 has made a mockery of both the cease fire and talks without surrendering its arms and freely using them to extort money and commit murders. For two consecutive years it caused months long blockades of the major artery to Manipur as part of its attempts to consolidate its hold in the state; has unabatedly been continuing extortion and selective killings/ambushes; apart from its earlier links with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) based in Bangladesh, it has links with the Chinese also as part of its “business” of acquiring and supplying arms to Left Wing Extremists/ Maoists-Naxals.

The other terrorist groups are United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Peoples Liberation Army (PLA)-both having links with ISI and Chinese intelligence, Kangla Yawol Kana Lup (KYKL), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and a number of others, who are also involved in extortion, recruitment of cadres including from school children and killings.

On 17 February 2009 the brutal murder of Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Dr. Thingnam Kishan, his driver Aribam Rajen and  Yumnam Token in Manipur’s Ukhrul District by the cadres of NSCN-IM had sparked off widespread protest paralysing normal functioning of administration for several days. Self styled Lt.Col Hopson Ningsen of NSCN(IM), was taken into custody by CBI on May 28,2009 as the prime accused for the gruesome triple murder. According to Imphal-based Lt. Col. L. Lokendra Singh (retd), writing in a local newspaper, “Dr.Kishan demonstrated a rare sense of integrity and courage as a civil officer. Unlike most other Government officials who have been unquestioningly obeying the dictates of NSCN(IM) in Ukhrul district of Manipur, he decided to swim against the tide and stubbornly opposed to the siphoning off of public fund into the coffers of the outfit. Dr.Kishan passionately believed that people’s development fund must go to the people. Sure enough NSCN(IM) was not pleased with Dr.Kishana’s resolve not to allow people’s development funds from being squandered by the militants and they decided to teach the young idealist officer a lesson. After four days of captivity and torture, Dr. Kishan paid with his life for his uprightness and idealism”.

On 30 April 2013, MK Preshow, MLA elected on a Congress ticket from 45-Chingai (Scheduled Tribe) constituency of Ukhrul District survived an ambush by suspected underground (UG) cadres. When the MLA’s convoy of 10 vehicles came close to Kuiva Kacho village, suspected UGs  lying in wait opened fire at them after hurling and exploding hand grenades. The hand grenade aimed at the MLA’s vehicle missed it and hit a bullet proof Maruti Gypsy of escorts  following the MLA’s vehicle and exploded.  There was an exchange of fire between the security escorts of MLA and the  unidentified persons for some minutes after which the ambushers left the spot, with no casualties of any of the targeted persons.

In an interview with Newmai News Network, on 05 May 2013, Muivah had said that they had done whatever was to be done and they are waiting as to what decision the Government of India will take in this connection. He also had said that the outfit `is not in the position` to tell the time-frame when the settlement would be made. “What we want is solution to the Naga political issue. And what the Government of India wants is the solution to the Naga political issue. So given this point of situation we are hopeful of a settlement. However, it is hard to say when,” Muivah had stated.

In January this year Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured a Manipuri delegation of various political parties that all unauthorised camps of the NSCN-IM in the State would be demolished. PM also assured action against NSCN-IM militant, Livingstone Anal, for physically assaulting film actress Momoko in full public view on December 18, 2012, at Chandel District. The delegation had urged for an amendment to Article 3 of the Constitution for ensuring the security and territorial integrity of Manipur. PM assured that the territory of the State would not be compromised at any cost. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde also conveyed to the delegates that the Assam Rifles Director General (DG), Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh had been instructed to crack down on all unauthorised camps of the NSCN-IM located in the State.

Late last year, speculations had reached very high about the protracted Naga political problem being settled in a few months. Union Home Minister was reported to have stated that “settlement” to the Naga issue would be brought about by March, 2013 or before the Nagaland Assembly elections. Cutting across party lines, all 60 MLAs of Nagaland called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday and sought an early settlement of the vexed Naga issue. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio even offered to resign to pave the way for a “partyless interim” government and return of peace in the State. Noted peace activist of Nagaland, Niketu Iralu had stated then that if any Naga political settlement is brought about it should not be only honourable and acceptable to the Nagas but it should also be `workable` . “The Joint Legislature Forum (JLF) had gone to New Delhi, met several Central leaders there and had gone to the extent of stepping side (pave way for the Naga solution by resigning enmasse) and pushed for the honourable and acceptable solution but to my mind the settlement should also be workable…I congratulate them”Mr. Iralu had said.

Mr Yenning writing in an article in a Manipur daily titled The Manipur Project and the NSCN-IM, wrote, “The Manipur Project of NSCN-IM and its General Secretary, “Th. Muivah has become all the more revealing if one looks at the recent socio-political development unfolding in Manipur. In other words, it has thrown up certain crucial issues pertaining to the movement of NSCN-IM in Manipur. At the outset, it is worthwhile to recall that the ‘Muivah/Manipur’ factor has been a stumbling block to the much awaited honourable solution to the Naga movement of Nagaland. In spite of the negative impact the above has on the integrity of the Nagas, Nagaland has given support to the callous demand of Muivah in return for his contribution of resources and manpower. Thus, Nagaland has agreed and supported the Muivah faction to find an exit from Nagaland”.

Another reason, why the Muivah project does not draw flak from the armed groups in Nagaland is that the armed Nagas of Nagaland have declared their intention to resolve the movement by and for the Nagas of Nagaland. Take for instance, in an exclusive interview to Nagaland Post during the observance of the 6th Unification Day at GPRN/NSCN’s Designated Camp at Khehoi (Thursday, 23 November 2012), Kitovi claimed, “The current talks between NSCN-IM and the Government of India (GoI) were confined only to the Naga inhabited areas in Manipur and thus, the alternative arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur has nothing to do with the Nagas of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam”. He further added, “Government of India, being a big country and a nation, their constitution is also very flexible. Although it is very bulky, it is flexible. But in the case of Nagas, the Government of India has set two rigid conditions – no sovereignty, no integration. So any solution that may come about between Government of India and Muviah cannot be applied beyond Manipur, since there is no question of integration.”

According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database, total fatalities, at 110 in 2012, increased by 69.23 per cent over the 65 recorded in 2011. While civilian fatalities remained at the same number, fatalities among the Security Forces (SFs) increased by two, from 10 in 2011 to 12 in 2012. There was a two-and-a-half fold increase in militant fatalities, from 30 in 2011 to 73 in 2012.

63 incidents of killing were recorded in 2012, as compared to 33 in 2011. The number of major incidents (each involving three or more killings) in 2012 stood at eight, as against three in 2011. Similarly, 107 incidents of explosion were recorded in 2012, resulting in nine killed and 90 injured, as compared to just 39 bomb blasts in 2011, with eight fatalities and 52 injured. 46 abductions were recorded in 30 registered incidents, as compared to 32 abductions in 14 reported incidents in 2011

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