2020 data shows NSCN-IM most ‘active’: Back channel push on not to abrogate ceasefire
New Delhi, May 3 (IANS): A fresh Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) report says though on a decline, insurgency-related incidents still persist and in 2020, the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, NSCN-IM, remained the most active group with about 44 per cent of incidents perpetrated by it.
It further says in Arunachal Pradesh too, the NSCN-IM was involved in 11 incidents in 2020, while the NSCN/K-YK in five incidents and the NSCN/U and ENNG in two and one incidents, respectively.
As many as 21 cases of kidnapping were also reported in Arunachal Pradesh in 2020.
Peace is cool; and when you have ‘peace’, perhaps there is no much realisation of what life would be like in the absence of peace.
But some well meaning citizens and intellectuals have given unto themselves the task of making Naga militant groups and leaders of all factions understand the futility of confrontation either among themselves and or even ‘others’. The apprehension of abrogation of ceasefire has risen as reports have suggested that the government of India could ensure deployment of additional forces and armoured men in some select pockets in Nagaland and in Manipur.
Although AFSPA has been relaxed in some pockets, the harsh law continues in other areas.
A number of leaders and well meaning personalities reportedly are meeting Naga underground leaders in various factions in the last one week or so and have tried to pursue them to see reason and give up obstinate stance wherever necessary.
The Naga peace talks, according to one version, were over by October 31, 2019. But hurdles and differences have remained and hence efforts are being made to end the deadlock.
A number of formal and informal interactions have taken place between Centre’s new peace emissary A.K. Mishra and underground leaders including from NSCN-IM and Naga National Political Group (NNPG).
While the issues of Flag and a separate Naga Constitution were flagged off by NSCN-IM, the NNPG under the leadership of N Kitovi Zhimomi is keen to sign a final peace pact at the earliest.
There are pressures from all quarters on the Central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi too.
The Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) has lately written to Modi urging him to expedite the resolution of the Naga peace process, saying Nagas were “impatient now on the non-resolution and the extensive policy of negotiations for a solution to the Naga political issue”.
In the meantime, one data has come out lately from the Union Home Ministry.
The NSCN-IM, was reportedly involved in 44 per cent of insurgency related incidents in Nagaland in 2020.
It, notably, never agreed to the argument that all parleys were over by October 31, 2019.
Thus more than the statistical data, the timing of the report is seen in some quarters as the most critical part. It suggests the NSCN-IM, which began talks formally in 1997, is still active on ground with boots and bullets.
Of course, there are some figures/data that suggest that the violence and other insurgency-related activities saw a significant drop between 2019 and 2020 in Nagaland. But it is also true, the incidents still persisted.
The MHA report says that in 2020, Nagaland witnessed a 45 per cent decline in the number of violent incidents compared to 2019. It actually came down to 23 in 2020 from 42 the previous year (2019).
Moreover, in 2020, the state of Nagaland witnessed no civilian and security forces’ deaths though counter-insurgency operations led to neutralisation of two insurgents, arrest of 222 insurgents and recovery of 84 weapons.
The report is categorical: “Though steps have been taken by the government from time to time to control insurgency, the NSCN factions continue to indulge in factional violence and other violent/illegal activities affecting normal life in the state.”
The 2020-21 annual report said that, “presently, various factions of the NSCN viz. NSCN(NK), NSCN(R) and NSCN(K-Khango) are under ceasefire with the Government of India. Currently, only one faction of the NSCN/K-Yung Aung faction, largely based in Myanmar, remains active”.
In 2020, the number of kidnapping/abduction cases also declined by 33 per cent compared to 2019 (2019 – 49, 2020 – 33).
Security analysts say the message should go to the other side that statistics suggest things often go out of hand and the authorities are well aware of the movement(s) of some underground leaders and their cadres.
Some Naga militant cadres could be still hiding in Myanmar or beyond, sources said.
Prime Minister Modi himself says: “Efforts are continuing, they are being pursued with all seriousness.”
The Prime Minister’s emphasis on the word “ghambirta” (seriousness) at the Diphu rally on April 28 in Karbi Anglong adjoining Nagaland border has its own significance.
A.K. Mishra, the Centre’s peace emissary, who returned to Delhi after a week-long stay in Nagaland, has been reportedly categorical to NSCN (IM) that there is no question of revisiting the contentious issues of Flag and a separate Naga Constitution.
Security experts are now trying to assess situations beyond “talks and solution”. The source said: “All pros and cons are being examined. We do not wish it, but in case there is abrogation of ceasefire, security of life and properties ought to be ensured.”
While the Prime Minister is keen to ensure permanent withdrawal of AFSPA, there cannot be any compromise on safety and security measures too, sources said.