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Yearender 2008: A Year of Fratricide
Dimapur , Dec 29(NPN):
Published on 30 Dec. 2008 1:02 AM IST
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A brief spell of President’s rule from January 3 preceded the March 5 general elections in Nagaland followed by the installation of the NPF-led coalition government on March 12 with chief minister Neiphiu Rio returning at the helm of power. Inter factional killings in 2008 eclipsed efforts of ending decades of violence and efforts to bring warring groups to implement the call for cessation of factional violence and killings. According to the South Asian Intelligence reports, Nagaland( 201) holds third place in violence-related casualties after Manipur(484 ) and Assam(384 ) While 154 deaths were caused by factional violence in 2007, fatalities increased to 201 in 2008, with two days to go before the current year ends. Among the victims of the fatalities, 68 were civilian, three were security force personnel and the remaining 130 were activists from various factions, the report said. Nagaland registered 244 insurgency-related incidents during the year 2008 which claimed the lives of 175 persons till August 31 against 154 fatalities in 272 insurgency-related incidents in 2007, according to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The reports also indicates, further, that 26 persons, including 7 civilians and 19 militants, were killed in the subsequent three months, till December 21, 2008, yielding a provisional total of 201 fatalities in 2008 , including 68 civilians, three Security Force (SF) personnel and 130 insurgents. Total fatalities in 2007 and 2008 signal a dramatic escalation of violence in the State, registering the worst levels since the ceasefire signed with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), the dominant insurgent outfit in the State, in 1997. Nearly 65 per cent of the total fatalities were those from various factions, with virtually the entire number ascribed to internecine clashes, in the absence of any significant underground- SF standoffs. Data indicates that at least 98 armed activists and 12 civilians were killed in as many as 75 internecine clashes in the State. In September 9 this year, providing the figures on the impact of such clashes, the Nagaland Home Minister Imkong L Imchen informed the State Legislative Assembly that 144 people, including 110 militants, 31 civilians and three security personnel were killed in insurgency-related incidents in Nagaland from January 1 to August 15, 2008. In his report it was further mentioned that a total of 21 people were arrested by Police in connection with insurgency-related violence and booked under the National Security Act. Imkong added that that, between May 2006 and July 2008, the State Police and Security Forces had seized 155 pistols, ten carbines and sten guns, 33 AK rifles, one SLR, 24 assorted rifles, 17 SBBL, 12 grenades and 15,344 rounds of assorted ammunition. Seven districts of the state have witnessed all of its 75 internecine clashes with 54 such incidents occurred in Dimapur alone while 12 were located in Kohima, four in Mokokchung, two in Peren, and one each in Phek, Mon and Wokha. The IM and Khapalng (K) factions of the NSCN are the main factions involved in this continuing attritional war since 1988, says the report. It also said that the year 2008 saw the emergence of a new player, the NSCN-Unification, which was formed following the ‘Niuland Declaration’ of November 2007, within the ongoing tug of war between the NSCN-IM and K. Subsequent battle lines have been drawn between an allied NSCN-K and NSCN-U, on the one hand, and the NSCN-IM, on the other. The heaviest toll occurred in the month of June. On June 5 , 14 were killed in the aftermath of the attack on the ‘GPRN/NSCN’ camp at Khehoi even as the first Forum for Naga Reconciliation meet got underway in Chiangmai, Thailand. On June 27 nine more were killed in Niuland area in a factional clash between the ‘NSCN/GPRN’ and NSCN(I-M). The report says that some of the major incidents in 2008 include killing of three senior cadres of the NSCN-K and abduction of another cadre by the rival NSCN-IM in a hideout at Mingkong in the Mokokchung District, for their alleged involvement in extortion during the month of January. In April 26 one IRB jawan was killed allegedly by the NSCN(I-M) near Diphupar ‘B’. In the same month, two ‘GPRN/NSCN’ activists and one from the rival NSCN(I-M) were killed while another from the NSCN(I-M) was abducted in three separate incidents of factional violence in Dimapur. Though no accurate break-up of the fatalities attributed to each of the three insurgent groups involved in the ethnic clashes exists, a rough appraisal indicates that the NSCN-K and U combine has lost relatively more men than that of their bete noire, the IM faction, in the current year, the report said. According one estimate dating back to February 2008, the NSCN-IM had raised its cadre strength from 3,000 to 5,000 and had also nearly doubled its weapon holdings since 1997.

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