TODAY -

Ceasefire - Troubled

Robert Lanky *



As a media person with some working knowledge of the Security Forces and NSCN (IM) has inspired me to fathom the ground realities of Cease Fire Ground Rules (CFGR). CFGR has many ingredients. But one aspect, I am to understand is the movement of cadres in uniform with arms in populated areas is not to be negotiated under the Rules.

But frequent moves of armed cadres and even detention of UG leaders have been reported in the media and are not uncommon any more. I recollect an incident which happened a few years ago, in which Naga UG leaders were apprehended with 10-11 weapons in Manipur on Imphal- Tamenglong Road.

Due to intervention of the GoI, the cadres were to be released but their weapons were to be handed over to CFMG at Mao Gate. But the aftermath of the incident remains a mystery and still clouds our minds on the exact nature & spirit of the CF Agreement.

In the year 2009 alone, two major incidents have taken place wherein the cease fire was on a thin edge and peace in both the states of Manipur & Nagaland were threatened. While the situation in Manipur is precarious, the unfortunate incident of Sakok has worsened the situation and literally worked as an extra 'fuel to fire'. The warring parties as usual, are blaming each other's actions.

The official stated position of the Assam Rifle as published in local dailies is that 'they had intelligence reports and radio intercepts about movements of armed militants of UNLF/ and PLA alongwith NSCN (IM) cadres in the area & their patrolling party was fired upon.

In retaliation, 3-4 cadres of NSCN (IM) have been killed'. On the other hand, NSCN (IM) have termed the killing as brutal and a blatant violation of cease fire. They have also raised the question whether the G of I is working towards abrogating the ceasefire and heading for war through the actions of the Assam Rifles?

A similar situation had occurred during Feb this year at Shirui, where approximately 30-40 NSCN (IM) cardres were holed up in a state tourist lodge and security forces had laid a siege for almost 20 days. Reason: the NSCN (IM) was trying to establish a new camp at Shirui.

The events that unfolded post incident are vivid but intriguing. Did the NSCN (IM) violate the ground rules in both the incidents? On both the occasions, retired General Mandhata Singh, the CFMG Chairman refused to intervene on the grounds that he has no jurisdiction over Manipur.

Mr Chidambaram too, during his visit to Manipur and Nagaland publicly re-iterated that the ceasefire agreement between NSCN (IM) & G of I relates to the state of Nagaland only. Why then NSCN (IM) continue to raise the issue of 'No territorial limits'? Seemingly, none of the civil societies/ NGOs are aware of the correct interpretation of the ground rules and so are the majority of the population in Nagaland and Manipur and they continue to protest against the actions by the Assam Rifles as a ceasefire & HR violations.

This is the irony of the issue!! Fortunately,there was no bloodshed at Shirui, but the mystery of CFGR remained an enigma and continues to be so. Also what remains in shrouded mystery is also 'who', 'how' and 'where' the NSCN (IM) cadres at Shirui were moved ?

The latest incident involving movement of NSCN (IM) cadres with suspected ultras of PLA / UNLF and ensued gun fight with AR has once again created a situation where common people of the state have become the victims of the crisis.

The NSCN (IM) described the happenings in Ukhrul as being "allegedly infested with 'sectarian groups of mercenaries' and 'syndicates of gangsters' created and groomed by 'Valley based militants of Manipur' who have stabbed the enemy from the back".

On 17th Aug, allegedly at the insistence of NSCN (IM), torch rally protest was staged by people and a 48 hour state wide bandh was called. Is it that the people are not aware of the precise ground rules & clueless as l am today? Interestingly as in the past, the locals either under coercion or otherwise have demanded:-
* The GoI to declare immediately that ceasefire is applicable in Naga inhabited areas outside the Nagaland.
* Assam Rifles be immediately removed from Ukhrul district.
* Befitting disciplinary action and punishment for Assam Rifles personnel.

If Shirui & Sakok incidents are taken as the benchmark, Govt of India needs to make the ground rules public without any ambiguity & transparency. Solution for any crisis can be found. Civil societies / NGOs need to suggest measures to ensure peace and tranquility.

Mutuality in keeping of trust by all and sundry is important. The civil societies needs to impress on UG leadership to recast their path of seeking 'peace' and to 'what type of peace' they intend to seek? We should not let these incidents at Shirui and Sakok abrogate our hard earned peace after lots of sacrifices. Blame cannot be put on one particular side.

To quote Dr Martin Luther King Jr, "If there is one thing I have learned from my studies in social work, it is 'injustice any where' is a 'threat to justice every where". One crisis follows another, and even where there is some kind of peace, it is a troubled peace with fear of war and preparation of war.

Presently, we all are entangled in the mesh of history and cannot escape the consequences of evil past. This crisis is very painful to swallow. However solution for any crisis can be found. Warring parties have to be sincere in their effort for a peaceful solution to this vexed problem and understanding of cease-fire ground rules.

It is for the Govt of India to clarify the conflicting ground rules being interpreted by the Chairman CFMG, the Assam Rifles and NSCN (IM) in larger public interest.


* Robert Lanky writes to e-pao.net regularly. The writer can be contacted at robertlanky(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on September 30th, 2009.




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