In a rare display of outrage against Naga rebels, more than 5,000 Naga villagers and townspeople burnt down a camp of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) insurgents in the state’s Zunheboto district on Monday morning after four insurgents allegedly stripped two girls at their check-post last week.
Angry civilians — armed with machetes, spears and firearms — had on Saturday attacked the camp of the six-decade old NSCN (I-M), who forced their way through the outer security cordon of the camp where 50-odd insurgents were living.
"The mob wanted the militants, numbering some 100, to vacate the camp. They clashed with the inmates on Saturday and Sunday following which one civilian was killed and seven others injured. The mob came today (Monday) armed with machetes, spears and firearms and two rebels died in the gunfight that ensured," a local police officer said on condition of anonymity..
"We are watching the situation very closely. It is the first time in many years that civilians have held their ground and could indicate that the insurgent group was getting isolated in parts of the state," a home ministry official said.
The NSCN (I-M) has about a dozen camps where its cadres live under a ceasefire pact with the central government.
The trigger for the local people’s outrage was the alleged molestation of two students returning from theology class in a bus which was stopped by NSCN cadres for ‘checking’.
The students were from the Sema tribe who are in a majority in the district. The NSCN leadership and cadres are dominated by the Tangkhul tribe.
The NSCN (I-M) later accused rival militant outfits of inciting the mob and attacking its camp. "How else could locals be armed with rocket launchers and machine guns?" it alleged.