Fed up with such a rise in factional feuds by exploiting the ceasefire agreement, various Naga organisations have asked both the groups to stop killing each other and unify to find an amicable solution to the vexed Naga problem through negotiations with the Government of India.
The worst affected places due to the ongoing factional feuds in Nagaland are Tuensang and Mon. Armed cadres of both the NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) are camping in these two places to eliminate each other. Regular exchanges of fire between the two groups have made the life of the common people miserable. Moreover, the so-called 'freedom fighters' do not waste any opportunity to harass the people and the Government officials. The sense of insecurity prevailing in those areas provoked the leaders of Chanh, Yimchunger, Sangtam, Khiammiungan and Phom tribes to take a tough stand against the insurgents. These tribes have threatened non-cooperation if the ultras do not pay any heed to their sincere appeal. The Konyak Union of Nagaland has also condemned the fighting among various underground groups.The union has appealed to all the groups to shun violence.
In such a situation, the NSCN (IM) recently held the Centre responsible for tardy progress in the ongoing political negotiations between the sides. The underground outfit accused the Centre of being insincere towards solving the Naga problem. On the other hand, the NSCN (K) claimed that a meaningful dialogue to solve the Naga problem would take place only after the withdrawal of ban on the outfit and abrogation of all draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Power Act.
There is nothing new in the allegation made by the NSCN (IM) against the Centre. Since long, this insurgent outfit is maintaining that solution to the Naga problem remained elusive because of lack of sincerity on the part of the Indian Government. But, quite interestingly, the outfit never bothered to amend its acts. Since the beginning of ceasefire between the IM group and the Centre, it has indulged in large-scale killing of felow Nagas, who did not adhere to their diktats. The NSCN (IM) went into killing spree in such a fashion that it seemed that ceasefire had given it the licence to kill.
Reeling under the fratricidal killings, the Naga society then appealed to both the factions to stop violence. Various Naga NGOs met the top leadership of both the factions with this appeal. But NSCN (IM) leaders Isac Swu and T. Muivah were unrelented. They categorically stated that the NSCN (IM) was the sole representative of the Nagas and any one who dare not to accept the fact would have to face the consequences. But the common Nagas, all along advocated that a meaningful solution to the problem could be achieved only after the unification of various Naga underground groups.
The events following the declaration of ceasefire between the NSCN (IM) and the Centre clearly proved that it was the underground outfit, which was not sincere. If it was sincere enough, it should have shown respect to the wishes of the Naga people. Instead, it went on to establish their supremacy over the Naga people through the strength of guns.
On the other hand, the NSCN (K) too had acted against the wishes of the Naga people. After entering into the ceasefire agreement with NSCN (IM), the security forces declared unilateral ceasefire to all the Naga underground factions. The NSCN (K) reciprocated the unilateral declaration of ceasefire by the couple of Armymen. Until they suffered heavy loss at the hands of the Myanmar Army, the Khaplang group of the NSCN never showed any intetions for a negotiated settlement of the Naga problem.
There is no harm in talking to both the groups of the NSCN separately to find an amicable solution of the Naga problem. But the underground organisations should be asked categorically to stop factional feuds and killings. As the popular support is with the Centre, it should not allow any factions to make a mockery of the ceasefire agreement. The ground rules of the ceasefire agreement must be adheared to strictly and any violations of the ground rules would invite action. Otherwise, the derailment of the ongoing peace process in Nagaland is inevitable.
Withering away of ULFA
Political movements, which do not have strong ideological base, have a limited life span. These movements in the nascent stage make strong inroads in the psyche of the populance by appealing to their sentiments. However, in the absence of any strong ideology, the support base of these organisations withers away, as the true and hollow nature of these organisations becomes clear with the passage of time. This happened in Tamilnadu in the late sixties, Punjab in eighties and started happening in Assam in late nineties.
Today, ULFA is facing resistance from inside the organisation as well as from outside and it may not take too long for it to completely break down. In the second week of February 2000, some of the cadres holding vital posts deserted the organisation. The reason behind these desertions is said to be the frustration of the cadres with the way of functioning of the organisation. At present, no activity is going on except extortion in the name of the organisation. Extortions have been going on from poor village cultivators and general public. The cadres who had joined ULFA in the hope of serving the people are finding themselves engaged in looting, extortions and kidnapping their own people. The cadres are mentally upset and are increasingly getting addicted to liquor. The people, who used to support them and give them shelter, have backed out. They are no longer willing to be a party to the violent acts of ULFA terrorism.
The last part of 1999 saw a revolutionary change in the attitude of people of Assam towards ULFA. With the arrest of four ISI agents working for ULFA, the ULFA-ISI nexus was confirmed, which triggered the process of ULFA losing mass support. Before this revelation, the sympathisers of ULFA were not aware that in the guise of a social reformist organisation, the group had established contacts with the Pakistani intelligence agency. ISI, in fact, has been supporting majority of the militant organisations in the North-Eastern region including the dreaded NSCN-IM. After its failure in Kargil; ISI has plans of cutting the entire north-east from the rest of the country. It has intensified its operations in the narrow sector between Srirampur in Assam and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, which is also called 'chicken's neck' and is the only road link between entire north-eastern region and the rest of India. ISI has been extending training to ULFA cadres apart from helping them in procuring arms from Bangladesh.
Another factor, which counts in the eroding base of ULFA, is the discovery of mass graves at Ghogabeel, in November 1999. The reaction of the people was intense. The people of Kalitapukhri, Goghabeel have long been suspecting something foul going on at the deserted area, from where, they have been recovering unclaimed human objects and hearing human screams. The operation of uncovering of mass graves, which was joined by thousand residents of Bistupur, Dihjani, Barghopa, Sagakuchi and Katakuchi brought forth the inhuman and barbaric tendencies of ULFA and shattered the myth of ULFA as an organisation working for the people. The process has been continuos.
The murders of Sanjoy Ghosh and Ratneswar Sharma , noted scholar, expose the ideologies of ULFA, which is interested in killing people, who are opposed to its ideas. The insurgent outfit even killed its own cadres, who questioned its proximity to ISI. In January 2000,134 ULFA and BLT militants surrendered before the common people in Assam. There was nothing official about it. Neither was there any Central dignitary present nor the Governor, Chief Minister or somebody from Army top brass. The surrendered cadres said that they had realised that their path was wrong. Binoy Rava, Commander of ULFA's Western command, who was among them, admitted that he had been awarded death penalty by the ULFA because of his opposition to some of their activities. The feelings of these cadres reflect the change in attitude of these boys towards the organisation and may result in more surrenders in near future.
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