oken jeet sandham
SOME underground-related violence was reported after the chairman of both the Ceasefire Monitoring Group and the Ceasefire Supervisory Board, Major-General (retd) N George, resigned after chief minister Neiphiu Rio took over for the third term in March. He held the post for more than a year and during this period handled many delicate ceasefire-related issues. He refused to give reasons for his sudden departure.
Nagaland is enjoying some semblance of peace after the ceasefire between the Centre and the NSCN(IM) came into force on 1 August 1997. In 2001, the NSCN(K) also signed a ceasefire accord with the Centre. The peaceful scenario, however, changed after the NSCN(K) headed by SS Khaplang split in 2011. Now there is the GPRN/NSCN led by Khole and Konyak. The Centre took a wise decision by announcing that the ongoing ceasefire would also apply to the GPRN/NSCN.
There had been many cases of violation of ceasefire ground rules by both the signatories and they often accused each other of conniving with the Assam Rifles. Even cadres of the NSCN factions traded charges of not sticking to ground rules. Whenever such incidents took place these were solved at meetings of the CFMG and CFSB. Even delicate issues were sorted out during such meetings, presided over by General George.
It is strange that before the state assembly elections this year, almost all overground leaders talked about the importance of finding a solution to the Naga problem. Both the ruling and opposition legislators under the banner of the Joint Legislature Forum met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July last year and urged him to solve the Naga problem before the polls. But once the election date was notified there was a spontaneous change in the people&’s mood. It is unfortunate that the overground political players failed to come together at a time when they should have. Now, such an opportunity may not present itself again.
Two unfortunate incidents have already taken place in the absence of the CFMG and CFSB chairman. On 19 April, a former Eastern Nagaland Student Federation speaker was allegedly assaulted by NSCN(IM) cadres. Civil societies of the region asked the NSCN(IM) to punish those involved in the incident.
Towards the end of the last month there was another ugly incident. An irate crowd of 500 went on the rampage at Kiphire town following alleged excesses by the Assam Rifles on the citizens of the area, necessitating the imposition of curfew. The situation was brought under control after the Assam Rifles assured the locals of looking into the matter.
From time to time, the Angami Youth Organisation protested against the Naga underground groups resorting to killings or creating a fear psychosis in and around Kohima or in their jurisdictions. It urged them not to disturb the peace in the state capital.
The sooner a new chairman is appointed the better because there is a need to hold frequent ceasefire meetings to maintain peace. The primary objective of the ceasefire is to create a conducive atmosphere for peace talks. It must be admitted that so far the ceasefire has been the only substantive achievement of the ongoing peace talks.
The writer is editor, North East Press Service, based in Kohima