The Assam Rifles and ZB battalion of the NSCN (I-M) based at Ghatashi designated camp in Zunheboto district had a tiff over interpretation of the cease fire ground rule after they almost collided with each other near the new Upper Tsuyi bridge, Wednesday afternoon
A convoy of the Assam Rifles led by DIG Brig. R Ravi on its way to Satakha came face to face with the NSCN (I-M) commander of ZB battalion, ‘Col’ Elija, deputy commander ‘Maj’ Khehoto and some odd cadres in full uniform and carrying arms, at a turning on the road some 200 metres above the bridge around 12.30 pm.
The NSCN (I-M) officers had come to attend the inauguration of the new bridge at the invitation of the area public and were returning to their camp, minutes after Minister for Roads & Bridges, G Kaito, left when the incident happened.
A confrontation that may have turned worse was averted as Pughoboto administration officials and police, public leaders and villagers of the area intervened and diffused the tension.
Brig. R Ravi said the AR would not have minded if the NSCN (I-M) officers attended the function in civil dress and without arms. He said the open “show of strength and intimidation” in public was a violation of the ceasefire ground rules.
The AR personnel took photos of the armed NSCN cadres and before proceeding to Satakha insisted that the police take action and file a FIR that arms were recovered from the cadres.
On the other hand, the NSCN (I-M) commanders accused the AR of violating the ceasefire rules by passing the designated camp without giving prior information. Stating that site of the incident is well within the perimeters of the designated camp, the NSCN (I-M) officers also said that being ceasefire monitoring group (CFMG) card holders, they were entitled to carry arms.
When contacted, official sources said the NSCN officers returned to the camp after signing PR bonds at the police station.
According to revised text of CFGR, 2001, between the Government of India and NSCN (I-M), Rule ‘F’ states that there would be no parading (either in groups of individual) of NSCN cadres in uniform and/or with arms. “For the present, this would cover all populated areas, public transport and highways.”
Rule ‘B’ states that patrolling by Indian Army or paramilitary force “within one km of NSCN designated camps decided after due consultation in the monitoring mechanism, will be carried out with intimation to them.”
Rule ‘F’ states that NSCN members holding identity cards issued by CFMG would, for their personal security, be entitled to have one NSCN cadre each accompany them at all times. The weapons should be carried in a concealed fashion.