Home ministry mulls force to induct NSCN-IM cadres
The Union home ministry and the Issak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) have discussed creating a special auxiliary regiment or an armed police force on the lines of India Reserve Battalion (IRB) comprising armed cadres of the Naga insurgent group, a senior ministry official said.
The proposal of creating the regiment is part of deliberations the centre is having with the NSCN-IM with whom a Framework Agreement was signed back in 2015 for finding a final solution to the vexed Naga issue.
The government has so far not revealed contents of the Framework Agreement but a high ranking official of the ministry of home affairs (MHA), who is part of the peace process with the Naga group, said the centre and the NSCN-IM have discussed recommending the “heavily armed cadres of the insurgent group” to form the new unit that will operate under the government of India.
“Our government is dedicated to achieve a peaceful solution to the Naga issue and channeling the armed cadres to form such force under the government of India will ensure peace prosperity for the state,” said the senior home ministry official on condition of anonymity.
The official said that details like time frame of raising the regiment, recruitment for the top brass of the said regiment or whether or not the insurgent group will give up its weapons are yet to be worked out.
Under the current arrangement, which came about after the government signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN (IM) in 1997, cadres of the insurgent group remain armed when they are in their camps located in Nagaland, the official added.
Former Home Secretary of India GK Pillai said government’s decision to induct NSCN-IM cadres must be a part of the final step of rehabilitation package for the insurgents. “In the past too we had raised two BSF battalions comprising of surrendered Naga militants. Same has been done in left wing affected areas and Kashmir. There must be somewhere 4000-5000 armed cadres of NSCN-IM and government of India ideally should provide a income source as part of the peace deal to keep them away from going back to militant fold,” Pillai said.
The revelation comes after tension government’s decision to hold state elections Nagaland before the actual signing the Naga peace accord subsided last week with the BJP forming an alliance the state’s Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). This was after civil rights groups and political parties in the state, including the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), announced a unanimous decision not to contest the Assembly polls scheduled for February 27 until the Naga political problem was resolved. The NSCN-IM had extended its support for boycotting elections.
The senior home ministry official also said the government used both “hot and cold maneuvers” to navigate the politics revolving around the election boycott call adding that Union home Minister Rajnath Singh, his deputy Kiren Rijiju and Naga interlocutor RN Ravi played a key role.
“The NSCN-IM recently issued statement that they will not use violence to enforce election boycott call. Compare the statement with the day when all political parties in Nagaland decided to boycott elections when filing of nominations too seemed to be a distant possibility. We have crossed the first hurdle, nominations have been filed. Now let’s have faith in Naga people for turning up to vote,” the official said.
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