NSCN (IM) camp overrun, cadres chased away by Sumis

Kohima, Dec 30: GUWAHATI/NEW DELHI, Dec 30: Sumi Naga tribals armed with spears, machetes and shotguns forced insurgents to evacuate a camp at Mukalimi in Naglaland’s Zunheboto district on Monday, following a two day siege which claimed at least three lives.

Local residents, eyewitnesses told The Hindu, burned down huts, offices and vehicles after cadre of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland—Isaac-Muviah group fled the camp, leaving only a church standing.

The violent clashes come just weeks after New Delhi met with representatives of the NSCN-IM in the latest round of a long-running dialogue meant to hammer out a political compromise with the insurgent group..

“New Delhi is committed to ensuring the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM continues”, a senior Ministry of Home Affairs official in New Delhi said.

“However, the siege underlines how fast public opinion in Nagaland is turning against the insurgents”.

Violent showdown

Friction had begun building at Mukalimi after two Suma women said they had been strip-searched at an insurgent check-point on December 21.

The Sema Hoho, or tribal council, and Totimi Hoho, or women’s council, demanded that the cadre involved be handed over to the State police for prosecution.

In a statement to media, the NSCN-IM said its own police—known as Crime Suppression Division—had arrested and sentenced three cadre, who it identified as Mapam Keishing, Mahori and Ninoto.

However, the Sumi Hoho rejected the NSCN-IM’s internal punishment, demanding legal processes be implemented instead.

Local villagers answered to a call from the Hoho, and laid seige to the Mukalimi camp on December 26.

Even as over a hundred Assam Rifles personnel stood by, bound by the terms of India’s ceasefire agreement with the NSCN-IM, the insurgents inside the camp opened fire on the protestors on December 28.

Five protestors were killed, and one injured. Sumi protestors returned fire; police sources say two bodies of insurgents were found in the camp on Monday.

The seige also cut off food and water to the hill-top camp, leading the NSCN-IM cadre to run out of supplies.

Further firing took place early on Monday morning, an Assam Rifles source said, but the insurgents eventually accepted a safe-passage offer facilitated by the paramilitary force.