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Naga insurgent group NSCN(K) splits down the middle, Konyak faction considering talks with Centre

india Updated: Sep 30, 2018 13:01 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
NSCN(K),Naga insurgent groups,Naga talks

The Indian government is in talks with seven Naga groups including the dominant NSCN (Isak-Muivah) for a solution to the Naga issue. It signed a framework agreement with the NSCN (IM) in 2015.(HT File Photo)

One of the factions of the banned Naga insurgent group NSCN (Khaplang), mostly comprising Nagas from the Indian side led by Khango Konyak who was recently impeached as chairman may join talks with the central government, underlining a split in the rebel group.

The group had ended the ceasefire in 2015 and has been responsible for some deadly attacks on security forces.

In a significant development, Isak Sumi, a top operative and spokesperson of the NSCN (Khaplang) claimed that the group was “seriously” considering talks with the Government of India.

The Indian government is in talks with seven Naga groups including the dominant NSCN (Isak-Muivah) for a solution to the vexed Naga issue. It signed a framework agreement with the NSCN (IM) in 2015.

“Backed by more than 500 and still many more readying to join hands, the NSCN/GPRN led by Khango Konyak shall continue to defend the rights and identity of the Nagas, and we are also seriously considering the Naga people’s genuine appeal for peace and political dialogue with government of India,” Sumi said in a statement on Friday.

This may have been prompted by the latest split in the Khaplang faction in August, when Konyak was “impeached” and replaced by Yung Aung, the 45-year-old nephew of SS Khaplang, also a Naga from Myanmar.

Konyak, had taken over as the self-styled chairman of the NSCN (K) after the death of Khaplang in 2017.

Reacting to Sumi’s claims, Joseph Lamkang, of the other faction released a statement on Saturday calling the Konyak-led faction traitors. “NSCN/GPRN re-pledge ourselves before God and to the people to continue the Naga freedom struggle, and will not tolerate anti-national elements conniving with the enemy to demean the struggle,” the statement said adding the group remained intact under the new leadership.

The Nagaland government said the NSCN(K) would be welcome to join the talks.

“The government of Nagaland has been pursuing all groups including NSCN(K) to join the peace talks,” said Rovilato Mor, Secretary, Home. “It is well and good if they are willing to join,” he said.

Mor said while there was no direct contact between the insurgent group and the state government, the latter had asked civil society organisations to reach out to the group. In August, Konyak Union, an organization representing the Konyak tribe reached out to the Khango Konyak faction.

“It is a positive sign if they are going to join,” said Manlep Konyak, president of the Konyak Union.

“They should join the peace talks. That is the popular demand that all groups should come together,” said Theja Therieh of the Naga Tribes Council adding how the group risks isolation if it doesn’t join.

The Konyak-led group’s location is not known for certain despite rumours that it is already in Nagaland and may be willing to join the ranks of the NSCN (IM). The state government believes the group is still in Myanmar.

“They are still in Myanmar,” said Mor. “We have no information of their crossing over,” said Thavaseelan K, Deputy Commissioner of the Konyak-dominated Mon district on the border with Myanmar.

Meanwhile, Sumi claimed that the impeachment of Konyak was instigated by ULFA and Meitei insurgent outfits (United Liberation Front of WESEA which comprises of NSCN(K), ULFA(I) and Manipuri insurgent groups have their camps in Myanmar’s Sagaing division) and that it was carried out by Pangmi Nagas in connivance with the Myanmar’s military without even a single Naga from the Indian side on board.

“The Pangmi sect connived with the Myanmar Army and mounted a full-scale military operation to assassinate his Excellency Khango Konyak. The offensive is still continuing to hunt down NSCN/GPRN workers guided by the Pangmi renegades,” Sumi said alleging that leaders of “the splinter Pangmi sect will be endowed with huge monetary bonus and other lucrative offers in the form of gold and jade mining licences and permanent citizenship privileges anywhere in Myanmar.”

Sumi claimed that the rival faction wants to enter the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with Myanmar’s government. It is for this reason, Sumi said, that they connived to oust Konyak with the Myanmar’s military for he is staunchly opposed to the NCA.

First Published: Sep 30, 2018 13:01 IST