Kohima, Dec. 29: The death toll has risen to two in yesterday’s clash between the NSCN (I-M) and people with the recovery of another body today.
Sources from Zunheboto said heavy exchange of fire is still on between the cadres and the group of people despite intervention by the Sumi Hoho, the apex organisation of the Sumi community.
Thousands of people attacked the ZB battalion of the outfit at Mukalimi village under Pughoboto subdivision in Zunheboto district after the militant group refused to hand over errant cadres to the authorities.
They had allegedly stripped two women missionaries from Arunachal Pradesh and assaulted two men while they were travelling in a taxi on December 21 near Aghuto village.
The NSCN (I-M) said it would award befitting punishment to the errant cadres, but refused to hand them over to police.
The number of injured in the clash has risen to five. The state government has airlifted the injured persons from Zunheboto to Dimapur for treatment.
Home minister G. Kaito Aye who visited Zunheboto today met relatives of those injured and handed over Rs 50,000 to each affected family. He met the district authorities and security forces to take stock of the situation.
A body is still lying at a police station in Zunheboto as the relatives of the victim have reportedly refused to take the body till the matter is settled.
India Reserve Battalion personnel and four columns of the Assam Rifles are in the area to ensure safety of people. A source said with the protection of the Assam Rifles and IRB personnel people could now move closer to the camp of the outfit.
Sources from the spot said the Assam Rifles was also firing at the camp along with a group of people.
“They (Assam Rifles) are firing from behind,” a source from Mukalimi village said.
“We will defend the camp till our last man stands,” an NSCN (I-M) insider said.
Hoho president Hovishe Arkha, who is at the spot, said they were trying to stop the group from firing. The NSCN (I-M), in a statement this evening, said the ongoing incident at Mukalimi was unfortunate and could have been avoided. It said the Sumi mob of Zunheboto had overtaken the Sumi frontal organisation which has served the interest of the “adversaries”.
“It is crystal clear that the confrontation is not between the NSCN and the Sumi community. The fact as we have all gathered and seen at the confrontation place, speaks volumes about the involvement of factions who do not hold any future for the Naga people,” the statement said.
The outfit said the people have been using rocket launchers, AK rifles, LMG and SLRs to fire at NSCN (I-M) cadres.
“It clearly shows that our Sumi youths are instigated by those who are against the present peace process between the NSCN and the government of India,” it added.
The outfit said the good and the evil would be unfolded and the incident would go down in history as a black chapter.
It said Sumi people were the pioneers of Naga political movements and they had led the Nagas in different capacity and in most crucial time the Sumi leaders had taken the right decision for the Nagas.
It added that today Sumi youths in total disregard and disrespect to the legacy of their elders have taken a negative U-turn, detrimental to the Naga people and Sumi name which has surprised the NSCN (I-M).
“Violence never solved any problem but create more problems,” adding that it wished to settle misunderstanding through peace and dialogues and not with emotions.
It, however, issued a strong warning that if they are forced to solve problem through pressure tactics at the behest of the adversaries, they will be compelled to respond.