Outcome of ‘taken note of’ camps
Stand off at Senapati
Another manifestation of the ‘taken note of’ camps. Thanks to the intervention of civil society organisations-the Naga People’s Organisation (NPO), Senapati District Students’ Association (SDSA) and Senapati District Women Association (SDWA)-the stand off between some cadres of the NSCN (IM) and Assam Rifles personnel did not explode into a full blown confrontation and an AK rifle reportedly seized from the Assam Rifles personnel was returned via the office of the NPO at Senapati district headquarters on February 20. Not the first time that cadres of the NSCN (IM) and Assam Rifles troops have been involved in a stand off and it was only last year that security personnel had to swoop down on a camp of the rebel group somewhere near Sihai village in Ukhrul district, taking back the people to the days when there were days of stand off between the Assam Rifles troops and NSCN (IM) cadres over a camp at Shirui village in Ukhrul district in 2009. The stand off then was fortunately resolved without violence, but the fear and anxiety it triggered amongst the local people of the village back then was palpable and memories of the security personnel running amok amongst the civilian population after a confrontation with NSCN (IM) cadres would not be forgotten that easily. Remember Oinam in Senapati district and Operation Blue Bird in 1987 that followed and it is this ugly chapter which gave birth to a number of human rights activists, giving a fresh direction and push to the movement of the NSCN (IM). It also went a long way in galvanising numerous ‘neutral Nagas’ to adopt a radical stand which obviously gave that much needed boost to the movement of the rebel group.
The spill over of February 20 is there for all to see as reports have come in that Senapati town is tense with all shops downing shutters and vehicles staying off the road with some even going to the extent of blocking the National Highway. It may be safe to presume that the stand off will be resolved, for the peace process between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India is central to it all. It was because of the ceasefire and the peace process that the NSCN (IM) cadres thought it fit to move around freely without any inhibitions and in many cases throw their weight around. And it is because of this and the fact that the ceasefire with the NSCN (IM) does not cover Manipur that the Assam Rifles troops swung into action and confronted the NSCN (IM) men. For long this status quo has continued and it is the feeling of immunity granted to the NSCN (IM) cadres which may be said to be directly responsible for the latest stand off with the Assam Rifles troops at Senapati. Seen against this background it is not surprising that the Assam Rifles had openly talked about the ‘taken note of’ camps of the NSCN (IM) in Manipur and it is this exercise of taking note which may be said to be directly responsible for the stand off at Senapati. Caught in the middle are obviously the common people, who may be ‘constrained’ to take sides and one does not need rocket science technology to understand whose side they will have to take.