The Assam Rifles was indicted for alleged violations of cease fire ground rules at Pfutsero and Shirui earlier this year that threatened breakdown of the 12-year ceasefire between the NSCN (IM) and GoI and sharpening the communal divide, according to report by four human rights activists-cum advocates.
A summary of a report by four lawyers that included- Nandita Haksar, Sebastian Hongray and Edward Belho- all practicing in the Supreme Court and Timikha Koza practicing in the High Court and released to the media here today, held the Assam Rifles responsible for violation of the ceasefire ground rules.
The report claimed that the investigation found that the NSCN(I-M) camp at Shirui was a approved as a designated camp.
Quoting a correspondent between the former CFMG Chairman, Lt.Gen R V Kulkarni (Retd) and Joint Secy (NE) Naveen Verma, letter No.CFMG/IM/2007-1566 dated February 6, 2007, it purportedly stated that the “new location of the NSCN(IM) camp stands approved” since June 2005.
The report also said there are four approved NSCN(I-M) designated camps in Manipur despite the denial by both the Assam Rifle, Union Defence Ministry and Government of Manipur.
It alluded a “lacunae and lapses” based on what was described as “ total lack of transparency in the ceasefire monitoring mechanism including the absence of records on the functioning of the CFMG”.
The report of the four further said the Ceasefire ground rules were not signed by the parties and that “ the so called Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) circulated to the state machineries were undated and unsigned” .
Further, the report expressed shocked and concern that the SOP, which has impact on civil administration and citizens was marked “secret”.
It also stated that when a set of ceasefire ground rules made between the Union of India with both the NSCN(I-M) and NSCN(K), the SOP violated the spirit of the ceasefire monitoring mechanism. It also revealed that MHA had suggested that SOP be changed and minimum use of force be allowed but Nagaland Government has resisted the MHA suggestion.
The report also revealed that the incumbent CFMG Chairman Lt.Gen(Rtd) Mandhatha Singh had revealed that his briefing did not include Manipur and so did not have any jurisdiction over any incident that occurred in Manipur state. It also revealed that the CFMG chairman was scheduled to visit Shiroy when the siege was going on but cancelled at the last minute following directive from the MHA saying that he has no jurisdiction authority in Manipur state.
It also summarized that in both the incidents, there could have been very serious consequences on the people had not the civil societies intervened and diffused the situation, it stated.
Terming both the demand of the Nagas of Manipur for integration of Naga areas under one administration and Meitei demand for integrity of Manipur state as “political”, it also commented that it can be settled through political negotiations and democratic peoples movement.
It also pointed out that the Naga demand can be well settled within the Constitution of India since change of state boundaries requires a simple majority decision within the parliament and the consent of the state is not a requirement.
However the demand for the integrity of Manipur (or any other within the Union of India) is not protected by the Indian Constitution since the country do not have a federal system.
Basing on their finding, the report came out with a five-point suggestion with a view to strengthening “democratic norms and good governance” .
Among them included- more transparency in the ceasefire monitoring mechanism by keeping records of the decision of the CFMG, extension of ceasefire without territorial limit with an explicit clause to indicate that it was purely administrative measures and has no political connotation or implication, inter-factional ceasefire so as to prevent further militarization in the region and device better ways for effective enforcement of CF ground rules. The suggestions also put the media under scanner with the advice “to evolve guidelines for itself so that it is not used as an instrument for counter insurgency or for spreading disinformation”.