With no breakthrough in site.. Naga rebel group eyes setting up camps in Myanmar


New Delhi, Oct 29
Naga rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) that has been part of ongoing talks for a peace accord with the Centre along with other groups is exploring the option of setting up base in Myanmar as there seems to be no breakthrough in the discussions.
The rebel group that earlier agreed to peace talks is not on-board with the Centre on most contentious issues like a separate flag and constitution for Naga-land.
The Government has made it clear that these two demands will not be met but NSCN (IM) is not willing to relent, sources said.
Ground intelligence inputs suggest that two of the group's top leadership have already crossed over to Myanmar to set up camps there.
Around 300-500 armed cadres have also managed to cross into Myanmar and are camping at Koki opposite Shera, says a recent intelligence report.
There are indications that NSCN (IM) is not likely to be part of the peace accord.
Meanwhile, 17 NSCN (IM) members have left the group and joined Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), an umbrella organisation and part of the talks that wants a solution to the Naga discord.
However, officials dealing with the subject are wary. "In a total strength of nearly 4,000, 17 members leaving the group means nothing. If NSCN (IM) is not part of the peace deal it will be of little consequence," an official told India Today TV.
The Narendra Modi Government was hoping for some kind of breakthrough by October 31.
The Central Government has been holding peace talks with NSCN (IM) since 1997 when the militant outfit became part of a ceasefire agreement.
NSCN (IM) has been demanding integration of Naga-inhabited areas in Assam, Manipur and Aruna- chal Pradesh.
But the Central Government has been opposed to it. The Narendra Modi Government signed a framework agreement with it in 2015 for an early end to India's oldest insurgency.
The NSCN was founded on January 31, 1980. Its leaders were Isak Chisi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and SS Khaplang. The group was further divided into many factions. But for long, there were two divisions - NSCN (IM) led by Isak and Muivah and Khaplang's faction came to be known as NSCN (K).
While NSCN (K) remained the most deadly of the armed Naga groups, NSCN (IM) had softened its stance and was ready for negotiations.
NSCN (K) active from across the border in Myan-mar is the most potent outfit as of now.
NSCN (IM), NSCN (KN)-Kitovi Neokpao and NSCN (R)-Reformation are part of a ceasefire agreement. As part of the ceasefire ground rules, they cannot be seen roaming around with arms and all their weapons are put under lock and key.
Sources say, now with no breakthrough there is a fear that NSCN (IM) could explore other options like coordinating with NSCN (K).
"This is based on the ground intelligence. But question remains are they prepared to go back to jungles? Most of the present cadre came in after the ceasefire and have been living in designated camps in Nagaland and Manipur. They haven't really fought so going back to it won't be easy," a security official tracking developments closely told India Today TV.
There has been precautionary deployment by the army and other security forces in Nagaland as the talks continue in Delhi.
The Naga separatist movement dates back to 1918 when the Naga Club was formed in Kohima, now the capital of Nagaland.
The group put up a memorandum before the Simon Commission, demanding the exclusion of Nagas from the constitutional reforms in British India.
The Club gave birth to the Naga National Council (NNC) in 1946, and the demand was made for a separate sovereign state including the Naga Hills that fall in today's Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and also parts of Myanmar.
On August 14, 1947, a day before India was to get Independence, NNC declared freedom. This triggered armed insurgency in the North East, demanding a Greater Nagaland or 'Nagalim'. The region bears the tag of a 'conflict zone' till date, but much has changed.
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