April 2, May 3, June 4, in Tirap (Arunachal Pradesh), Mon (Nagaland), and Chandel, (Manipur), respectively: With three deadly attacks on the Indian Army in two months spanning three states and claiming at least 28 lives, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang faction’s (NSCN-K) strategy is to open up as many fronts as possible.
“The strategy of the NSCN-K is clear — by trying to broaden the base of its area of operation, it is trying to engage the Indian security forces in as wide an area as possible,” a senior security official combating insurgency in the Northeast region told HT.
“Opening more fronts will mean the counter-insurgency operations will have to operate across a wider area, thereby reducing its efficacy in a difficult geographical spread that is well suited to the insurgent’s guerrilla style of warfare,” he added.
While insurgent attacks on security personnel are nothing new in the Northeast, what is novel is the extent and manner of cooperation among the various insurgent groups that comprise the Assamese, the Manipuri, and various Naga tribes.
The NSCN(K) strategy is also due to a sense of pervading frustration at being engaged in a 11-year long ceasefire with the Indian government, which did not fructify into talks for a negotiated settlement. “There was very little engagement with the government, except the annual ritual of a ceasefire announcement extension,” said an informed source.
The source also added that the NSCN (Isak-Muivah faction), which has held at least 80 rounds of talks with the government since 1998, had laid down a pre-condition that it would walk out of the talks process if the government invited the Khaplang faction for talks.