NSCN (I-M) vacates Sihai camp, says Army

DIMAPUR, MAY 1 (NPN) | Publish Date: 5/1/2019 11:07:04 AM IST

After days of heightened tension in the area, NSCN (I-M) vacated its camp at Sihai village, about 5 km from Khamasom, near the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur’s Ukhrul district.

In a statement, defence PRO Col C Konwer claimed that the matter was resolved by security forces at the appropriate level so as to ensure that no further inconvenience was caused to the local people. He said setting up of the “unauthorised camp in gross violation” of ceasefire ground rules and against the spirit of ongoing ceasefire agreement had resulted in great inconvenience to locals residing in the adjacent areas. The tense stand-off between troops of Assam Rifles (AR) and NSCN (I-M) cadres began in the area following the former’s objection to setting up of the camp at Sihai village. 

PRO stated that setting up of the camp by NSCN (I-M) was in violation of ceasefire ground rules and asked the latter to dismantle it. But, as NSCN (I-M) remained adamant and dug its heels in by claiming that the camp did not violate any ceasefire ground rule, tension quickly built up as paramilitary forces started massing in the area and choppers carried out reconnaissance missions. AR used local village elders to try and convince NSCN (I-M) leadership to dismantle the camp, but with little effect.

Pointing out that setting up of such a camp itself violates the spirit of ceasefire agreement, Konwer said, once detected by security forces, NSCN (I-M) leadership was given a reasonable time to vacate, which they failed and caused much hardship to the local populace. He claimed that the attempt by the group to provoke the security forces to use force was responded with utmost restraint, ensuring that the issue did not escalate further and 21 long years of negotiations did not go waste. 

The PRO termed setting up of the “unauthorised” camp in “violation” of ground rules agreed upon as most unfortunate and almost betrays the hopes of Naga people for a final accord anytime soon. 

On the contrary, to maintain the momentum in negotiations achieved after signing of the Framework Agreement, he claimed that the security forces were extremely careful not to escalate despite provocation from NSCN (I-M) and approached Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG) chairman though he has no mandate beyond Nagaland. 

Using the good office of the CFMG chairman and civil society organisations, it was ensured that the camp was vacated by NSCN (I-M) in conformity with the ceasefire ground rules, he added.

PRO cautioned that such “unilateral actions” by NSCN (I-M) will only disrupt normal life of common citizens and go against the spirit of ceasefire agreement. He said the protest rallies orchestrated by the group by inciting tribal sentiments against Assam Rifles, who acted with great restraint while only enforcing the ceasefire ground rules, will only be counterproductive and earn the organisation the wrath of common people. 

Mentioning that NSCN (I-M)’s action has resulted in creating discontent amongst other tribal organisations and people of the State who have reportedly expressed their displeasure on such “blatant violation” of existing agreement and disruption of normal life, the defence PRO advised the group to follow ceasefire ground rules in letter and spirit in the interest of peace and early settlement of the Naga political issue. He also urged the group not to take actions that will jeopardise the final agreement and disrupt normal life of common citizens.

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