Ukhrul rally calls for end to standoff

Ukhrul rally calls for end to standoff
A solidarity march in Ukhrul district where a stand-off between NSCN (I-M) and AR troopers reported.
Correspondent IMPHAL, APR 30 | Publish Date: 4/30/2019 11:04:17 AM IST

A mass rally converged at Sihai village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district on Tuesday called for ending the ongoing standoff between NSCN(I-M) and security forces over the location of the former’s camp at Sihai village.

Hundreds of people including womenfolk took part in the rally organised under the aegis of Tangkhul Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The area where cadres of NSCN (I-M) were reportedly taking shelter is situated between border pillar (BP) 124 and 125 of the Indo-Myanmar and about 15 km from Sihai village.

The rally was organised to ensure ‘peace, tranquility and love’ amidst the standoff between NSCN (I-M) and Assam Rifles in the area.

Tension was running high at Sihai Khullen village where Assam Rifles troops descended on the village where cadres of NSCN(I-M) engaging in peace talk with India government were camping about 15 km away from the village.

The troops were reportedly insisting the cadres of the NSCN (I-M) to vacate the area and shift to a nearby designated camp of the outfit.

The people and CSOs were apprehensive that the standoff could lead to an unwanted situation.

The “Solidarity March” was staged in support of the Indo-Naga peace process and converged at Sihai village where the villagers were leading a life of fear and panicky since the Assam Rifles troops stationed in the village.

The citizens took out rally reportedly after no positive result came out despite the intervention by leaders of Tangkhul CSOs who approached the AR officers to take up necessary steps to ease the tension.

The Assam Rifles troopers stationed there have cordoned off the area after a thorough survey of the location of NSCN (I-M) camp and its surrounding since Friday evening, reports said. Army choppers were also hovering around the camp site, it added.

NSCN (I-M) accuses AR of belligerence
DIMAPUR, APR 30 (NPN): NSCN (I-M) through its MIP said that whatever was happening in the stand-off between Assam Rifles and NSCN (I-M) at Sihai Khunou, Ukhrul district was “extremely unfortunate” especially since 21 years of political negotiations was on the verge of signing of a final agreement. 
 MIP said it was not the right time for Indian security forces to display “such hostility” which could lead to brinkmanship and that “such an absurdity” went against the spirit of Cease Fire Ground Rules. 
MIP pointed out that at CFGR review committee meetings held occasionally, both sides- government of India and NSCN (I-M) recognised that the need was to maintain mutual trust, understanding and respect.
 It also recalled that in the last meeting held in Chumukedima, Dimapur on June 8,2018 the government of India team led by special secretary (MHA) Rina Mitra and the NSCN (I-M) team led by ‘Lt.Gen’ (Retd) V.S.Atem had agreed to take all possible measures to improve the ground situation considering the importance of progress of the ongoing “Indo-Naga” political negotiations and respecting the historic Framework Agreement signed between the Centre and NSCN (I-M) on August 3,2015. 
MIP said NSCN (I-M) has maintained a stand to uphold the hard earned progress of the “Indo-Naga” political negotiation but accused Assam Rifles looked down. In keeping with such spirit, NSCN (I-M) claimed that it has maintained the stand to uphold the hard-earned progress of the Indo-Naga political negotiation. However, it alleged that Assam Rifles look down upon NSCN (I-M) as some it disliked and kept on alienating it without following any ethical rules as per the spirit of ceasefire ground rules. 
MIP said even if there was any misunderstanding because of different interpretation of ceasefire ground rules, there was a mechanism to follow to redress anyviolation of CFGR. 
MIP maintained that CFMG should have been informed about any issue rather than “going headlong to create a war-like situation” and resorting to psychological warfare by using local villagers as human shield.
 It recalled that having designated camps in Ukhrul district was not a new thing as Khangkhui-Shirui forest area designated camp was allotted in 2007 by then CFMG chairman Gen (retd) Kulkarni which was vacated in 2009. Again in 2010, mutual understanding was reached with Maj Gen Gurung in respect of the camps at Chatric and Grihang and it existed for nearly 10 years. 
It pointed out that Chatric camp was also vacated on the ground that there was no authorised designated camp. MIP said now , Sihai Khunuo camp is being targeted even though it may fall short of being tagged as “designated camp”, though it was never under scanner of for creating law and order problem in the area. It said even nearby villages would swear by it. 
MIP also cited the official CFMG meeting on March 1 when Col Joshi of Assam Rifles had stated that there was no designated camp in Ukhrul district. NSCN (I-M) stressed that such a misplaced interpretation of ceasefire ground rules at the whims of any officer was a clear violation of ceasefire ground rules. It also said such a view repudiated the very purpose of signing the “Indo-Naga ceasefire in 1997” to pave the way for creating conducive atmosphere for political negotiation.
It said the situation at Sihai Khunou created by Assam Rifles B. Range (10 Sector, Brigade) was something uncalled for, as the paramilitary force should not have gone too censorious without following proper channel of addressing any misunderstanding. 
Under the given situation that was turning acrimonious, MIP said it was better for CFMG chairman to designate any suitable place for its cadres to shift and put an end to the war-like situation. 
MIP maintained that “NSCN cadres simply cannot be made to vacate without offering them an alternative location,”.
Stating that Ukhrul is not Kashmir, though a Kashmir-like situation has been created, NSCN (I-M) also alleged that three helicopters, along with drones, were keeping surveillance over the camp. It said the heavy deployment of latest weapons, including artillery, and these are openly displayed in the local ground. Also, it said all sorts of weapons were also stationed right in the heart of the village with the purpose to generate panic and fear among the villagers. 
MIP reiterated the NSCN (I-M) was not a terrorist organisation to warrant such a heavy deployment of weapons with around 30 paramilitary commandos armed to the teeth who were also transported by three helicopters on Monday. 
It said the local village ground has been occupied and weapons displayed to create fear psychosis among the villagers, while heavy vehicles brought re-enforcement. 
MIP said it was unbecoming of the Assam Rifles to keep on chasing NSCN (I-M) cadres while much was achieved during the past 21 years of political negotiations and ceasefire. MIP said there would be much to celebrate by the paramilitary force once permanent peace was established after a final political settlement is signed.

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