NSCN(IM) warns rival against deal

New Delhi, May 28: As NSCN (Khaplang) rests over a peace pact with Myanmar, rival NSCN (Isak-Muivah) has extended a friendly advice: Beware, Myanmar is not India.

Unwilling to reconcile with its rival, the NSCN (IM) has fought pitched battles with Khaplang’s men for almost 25 years now. But when the NSCN (K) signed an agreement with the Myanmar Government on April 9, the NSCN (IM) could not disagree more with the trust that NSCN (K) put in what is claimed to be a reformed bureaucracy in Naypyidaw.

“The NSCN (K) should know that Myanmar is not India. They have taken over several Naga areas and are not even giving power over any town,” a senior NSCN (IM) leader told The Telegraph. “They can even go back on their word,” he said, perhaps sending a signal to Raisina Hill not to go back on its word.

The NSCN (K)’s 5-point agreement with Sagaing division regional authority has given it official administrative control over 3 Naga-majority areas. However, several other areas are left out of its control, the rival group has reminded the Myanmar-based Khaplang group. “Areas like Lahe are sparsely populated; there is still no control over Homalin or Khamti,” the NSCN (IM) leader said.

Myanmar is trying to buy peace with several outfits. It has signed a pact with the Shans and is trying to buy peace with Kachins and Karen rebels also. Naga rebels, therefore, are part of a strategy of signing peace deals and starting political dialogue.

The NSCN (IM)’s statement is significant for several reasons. It came just before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s departure for Yangon and Naypyidaw yesterday at the invitation of Myanmar President U Thein Sein.

One of the priorities, besides strengthening economic ties, is the security agenda. The Prime Minister’s men will convince Myanmar to prevent NSCN (K) from sheltering outfits like Ulfa and Manipur-based groups. With Maoists in India looking at supply of arms by Indian rebel outfits from Myanmar, India will underscore its concerns.

The NSCN (IM)’s “advice” may not necessarily mean that it trusts the Government of India. But it does show that the rebel group has more trust in established Indian democratic processes than Myanmar’s fledgling democracy propped by ageing generals. Although the sailing is far from smooth, the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India are tied in a ceasefire agreement and, according to well-placed sources, talks are “at an advanced stage”. This may also be a beacon of hope for the tardy reconciliation process between the 2 outfits, which split from the parent NSCN in 1988. The NSCN was formed in 1980 in response to opposition for the NNC-signed Shillong Accord of 1975 and it split in 1988 because of turf wars.

The NSCN (IM) had announced it would not attend the reconciliation meeting, which was scheduled to be held at Chiang Mai in Thailand on May 21, after the Centre said it would talk to the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) as well. Sulking, general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and chairman Isak Chishi Swu did not attend the meet while Khole, Kitovi and Y Wangtin Naga (the Indian signatory in the Myanmar agreement) of NSCN (K) are still in Chiang Mai.

“We have achieved reconciliation on the ground and violence has decreased but political reconciliation has to be achieved. There are disagreements but NSCN (IM) leaders should have gone to Chiang Mai and expressed disappointment,” NSCN (KK) C Singson said from Dimapur.

The NSCN (IM) may have skipped Chiang Mai but, as the statement on Myanmar shows, it is still in the mood to offer “friendly advice” to a rival Naga group. The concern keeps the reconciliation hope kindling. (Courtesy: TT)


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