NSCN and Assam Rifles standoff continues; spread to Zbto and Manipur
The stand off between the security forces and the NSCN-IM continues for the second day today spreading to Manipur and some parts of Zunheboto District in Nagaland. The current quagmire was triggered by the Thursday incident where the NSCN-IM had detained five Assam Rifles jawans after having had snatched their weapons. The Assam Rifles personnel traveling in a truck allegedly ‘trespassed’ into the 20 metre range of Hebron Camp violating the cease fire ground rules which prompted the Naga militants to act on them.
On Friday since early morning, about 200 jawans of Assam Rifles scattered themselves in all the approach roads leading to Hebron Camp, off Dimapur and conducted intense frisking on anybody they would come across. The frisking operation is reportedly still underway till the filing of this story. Four senior NSCN-IM leaders including kilonsers (NSCN-IM ministers) were detained for the whole day and released in the evening by the Assam Rifles. The four NSCN-IM leaders were heading for the Hebron Camp for a meeting, according to a source. Personnel of 29 Assam Rifles and 32 Assam Rifles with their respective commanding officers are leading the operation.
Meanwhile, Thursday’s incident at the entrance gate of NSCN (IM)’s Hebron Camp seems to have reverberations in Pughoboto sub-division, Zunheboto district, with reports of Assam Rifles troops amassing near the NSNC (I-M)’s Ghatashi designated camp.
Public sources from Pughoboto said that on Friday morning, AR troops simultaneously came to the sub-division from three sides – Tseminyu, Wokha and Satakha. The AR convoy coming from Wokha via Kichilimi consisting of 7-8 vehicles halted at Shesulimi village and after the troops had their lunch stationed themselves in the village, sources said. Shesulimi village is only about 2km from Ghatashi designated camp where the ZB battalion of the NSCN (I-M) is stationed.
A public leader of the area said the AR convoy from Tseminyu consisting of about 11 vehicles halted at Doyang Bridge and the troops restricted the movement of vehicles.
Three Tata Sumo taxis plying regularly between Pughoboto and Kohima were stopped at the bridge and forced to return. It was only after the intervention of Pughoboto administration that movement of vehicles was allowed, the public leader said.
Sources also said that at least trucks carrying AR troops from Satakha have reached Ghatashi area via Chishilimi. Later it was also disclosed through highly reliable source that another five trucks passed through Pughoboto around 7:30 pm and went down to Ghatashi. According to the sources, the AR troops were in operation mode as insignias and names were not displayed on their uniforms. Some personnel also refused to reveal their names and designation.
It may be mentioned on April 4 last, the Assam Rifles and NSCN (I-M)’s ZB battalion had a tiff over interpretation of the cease fire ground rules after they almost collided with each other near the new Upper Tsuyi bridge. A likely confrontation was averted due to intervention of Pughoboto administration, police and public leaders of the area.
Also in Manipur, security forces personnel in large number have been rushed to the vicinity of NSCN-IM designated camps as a pre-emptive move. Sources said that personnel of 10th Dogra Regiment are carrying out intense patrolling near the NP Battalion of the NSCN-IM designated camp at Piulong (Buning) near Tamei in Tamenglong district while personnel of the 5th and 43rd Assam Rifles are doing the same at Hothrong Brigade of the Naga outfit near Oklong in Senapati district and in Chandel district, central forces are enhancing the security measure at AC Battalion of the NSCN-IM. A separate source said that Kishumung Battalion of the NSCN-IM in Ukhrul district is also facing similar ‘provocation’ from the Assam Rifles today.
A separate source said that chairman of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG), government of India Maj Gen (retired) N George is camping in Dimapur to diffuse the highly charged situation. Meetings are also underway at Rangapahar Army base.
Meanwhile, weapons of the Assam Rifles personnel confiscated by the NSCN-IM are yet to be returned, according to another source. The NSCN-IM leaders stationed at Hebron Camp are reportedly waiting for the decision of Muivah and Swu who are camping in New Delhi presently.
Following the development, there have been fear psychosis gripping among the Naga populace thinking that if cease fire breaks down, what next ?