Manipur tense over ‘unauthorised’ NSCN(IM) camp

Columns of Assam Rifles arrive in Sihai village; locals plan peace rally today

April 30, 2019 01:40 am | Updated 01:40 am IST - GUWAHATI

A stand-off between the paramilitary Assam Rifles and the Isak-Muivah faction of the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagaland over an ‘unauthorised’ camp of the latter has turned a Manipur village near the Myanmar border into a virtual battlefield.

Around 70 NSCN(IM) members had allegedly set up a camp at Khamasom village, about two km from the India-Myanmar border, a few months ago. The Assam Rifles came to know about this camp during an aerial survey on April 25 and urged the locals and church leaders to tell the insurgents to vacate the camp as it had been set up in violation of the ceasefire ground rules.

Ceasefire rules broken

The NSCN(IM) had inked a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government in July 1997. According to the rules, the extremists are required to stay in designated camps.

The ground rules also require security forces not to keep vigil within a certain radius of such designated camps. Though this rule does not apply to unauthorised camps, the Assam Rifles personnel made Sihai village, about five km from Khamasom, their temporary halt “in order not to create unnecessary tension”.

Tension has gripped the people of Sihai with military choppers landing and taking off frequently in the area and columns of Assam Rifles arriving in batches.

The chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group had on April 27 instructed the NSCN(IM) leadership in adjoining Nagaland to ask their members to vacate the Khamasom camp, but the extremists have shown no signs of leaving the area.

‘War-like situation’

“It is a war-like situation and the people are panicking... We have decided to take out a peace rally at Sihai on Tuesday,” Mangang Raman, leader of the apex body of the Tankhul Naga people, said.

“We are duty-bound to ensure the ground rules are adhered to,” an Assam Rifles officer said, indicating that armed personnel would stay as long as needed to vacate the ‘unauthorised’ camp that has been under constant air surveillance.

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