Violates COVID-19 protocol. Is against the call of the Nationwide lockdown of the Prime Minister himself and the people of Kashung Bungdung village in Kamjong district obviously seem to sincerely stick to this line in blocking the entry of Assam Rifles personnel to the village. Ceasefire not extended to Manipur and hence any camp of the NSCN (IM) here is in violation of the ceasefire pact signed between the outfit and New Delhi in 1997. This is the line of the Assam Rifles. Both sides appear to have their own merit and looking at the manner in which people of the said village came out in hordes to block the movement of the Assam Rifles troops at Hongbei junction, the entry point to the said village, is starkly reminiscent of the Shirui village stand off in 2009, when Assam Rifles troops again swooped down on a camp of the rebel outfit. The Shirui village episode replayed itself when Assam Rifles troops again had to swing into action to disperse yet another camp of the rebel outfit at Sihai Khullen in Ukhrul district in 2019. Significant to note too that Sihai Khullen, Shirui village and now Kashung Bungdung are all in the then Ukhrul district, with Kamjong district being carved out of Ukhrul district only in 2016. Not surprisingly the NSCN (IM) too has not kept quiet and gone ahead and issued a statement accusing the Assam Rifles and hence the Government of India of violating COVID-19 protocol and questioning the intention of New Delhi in letting the Assam Rifles begin the process of cracking down on one of its camps in Manipur. One of its camps, take note why these words have been stressed in italics for this is important.
Those who have been following the reports of camps of the NSCN (IM) in Manipur will surely remember that the Shirui village camp, the Sihai Khullen camp and now Kashung Bungdung in Kamjong district all fall in line with the ‘taken note of camps’ of the NSCN (IM) on the soil of Manipur. It was the Assam Rifles itself which coined the term ‘taken note of’ camps to acknowledge the existence of the camps of the NSCN (IM) at Oklong in Senapati, Buning in Tamenglong and Phungchung in Chandel. Since the cease fire is not officially extended to the soil of Manipur, the security forces have come up with the impressive ‘taken note of’ camps to acknowledge that there are indeed camps of the NSCN (IM) in Manipur. What has made the latest incident all that more interesting is the way in which the present lockdown and COVID-19 protocol have been used to advance one’s case, as is done by the villagers and not surprisingly the NSCN (IM) itself. Still too early to say how things will unfold in the coming days, but thanks to the timely intervention of the State police, the impasse seems to have been tackled for the time being as the road block at Hongbei junction has reportedly been cleared but anything can happen in the coming few days. This is where the allegations that COVID-19 protocol has been violated become interesting. Just how much COVID-19 threats can troops, which usually stay inside their camps, pose to a people ? Everyone will have an answer to this, depending on from which side one views the question.