The Nagaland and Manipur governments have taken steps to meet any eventuality and have put their respective police forces on “high alert,” with the next round of peace talks likely to end the Naga political problem scheduled for October 31.
After the October 24 talks between the Nagaland governor, interlocutor for the Naga peace talks RN Ravi and the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) in New Delhi were inconclusive, it is speculated the peace talks may continue beyond the October 31 deadline.
Confirming this, NSCN leaders have stated that though the issue about a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas as part of the peace accord were discussed at the meeting, no solution was arrived at.
Officials in Kohima say the Nagaland government has directed all deputy commissioners of the districts and administrative officers to remain in their place of posting and within their jurisdiction till further orders.
The Nagaland police headquarters has issued an order banning all kinds of leaves and directed all unit commanders to recall all officers and personnel on leave immediately except those on medical leave.
In neighbouring Manipur, where Nagas have a sizeable presence, security forces in the state have been put on high alert and a large number of security forces, including women personnel have been deployed at important areas including near the Raj Bhavan in Imphal to thwart any “unwanted activities”, a top state government official said.
A BJP delegation along with those of other political parties of Manipur are seeking to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to convey the sentiments of the people of Manipur on the Naga peace talks issue, a senior BJP member told PTI from Delhi.
The crucial round of talks on October 24 to find a lasting solution to the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency problem has remained inconclusive.
Seeking to rule out any apprehension on the peace talks, Nagaland chief secretary Temjen Toy told PTI, “Everything is normal and the public need not worry of any unwarranted situation … We are not apprehensive but we don’t want to be caught unawares and so we are remaining alert to face any kind of eventualities.”
The Nagaland director general of police T John Longkumer ruled out any scope of apprehension by the people saying, “We are preparing for any law and order situation that may come about. We are always like this whenever anything is to come about.”
“Instead of panicking, people should be happy that the state police is on high alert for their security,” the DGP told PTI.
The Police Headquarters in Kohima circulated in the social media a direction to the India Reserve Battalions to keep at least two months stocks of rations and fuel in view of the fluid situation in the state. This has reportedly created apprehension amongst the people and Toy said the police department has already been warned against issuing such orders.
Sources in the NSCN(IM), which had signed the Framework Agreement with the centre in August 2015, said the outfit will stick to its demands for a separate flag and constitution during the October 31 round of talks.
The Framework Agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after Independence in 1947.
The demands have been made after the Centre’s August 5 announcement scrapping the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. With the annulment of the special status, the separate flag and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir cease to exist.
Naga tribal organizations, civil societies and political groups have been saying that any agreement on the Naga issue should be “inclusive, honourable and acceptable to all sections of the people”.
In Manipur, government orders have been issued for adoption of preventive measures to deal with any “possible disruption in the supply and distribution of essential commodities due to the impending fallout of the Naga Peace talks”, officials said.
Manipur Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), L Kailun has instructed the police superintendents of all the 16 districts of the state to ensure maximum manpower to meet any eventuality.
Security forces and commandants of Manipur Rifles and Indian Reserve Battalion have been directed to maintain adequate manpower at their respective battalion headquarters “to move in short notice in connection with prevailing law and order situation in the state.”
A district-level security coordination meeting of the district magistrates, top-ranking state police officials along with those from Assam Rifles, CRPF and BSF was held to discuss the prevailing law and order situation in Manipur.
The state, particularly the six valley districts, had witnessed large scale protest rallies against the peace talks between the Centre and the NSCN(IM).
The order issued by Inspector General of Police E Priyokumar Singh said that commandants of 6 Battalion of Manipur Rifles and 11 Battalion of Indian Reserve Battalion have been directed to submit a compliance report without fail.
Fuel outlets have been ordered to sell fuel as per vehicle requirements and not to do so in barrel/transport containers. Sunil Karam, coordinator of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) who led a massive rally in Imphal, told reporters that “Naga talks should not affect Manipur territorial integrity and administrative set-up.”