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Naga rebels supplying arms to Maoists, says NIA probe

The MHA official termed this a “dangerous trend” and said it could derail peace talks between the Naga groups and the Indian government.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2019 08:15 IST
Neeraj Chauhan
Neeraj Chauhan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
NIA,Maoists,Naga rebels
This is the first time NIA has come across instances of Nagas providing arms to Maoists, the officials added. (Vipin Kumar/HT File PHOTO)

An investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed that some rogue cadres of a Naga outfit, the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), are supplying sophisticated weapons, smuggled from Myanmar, to Maoists, two senior officials handling investigations told HT.

Although there isn’t any direct evidence yet that NSCN-IM, as an organisation, is directly involved in the smuggling of arms from Myanmar, and supplying these to Maoists, it is up to the outfit to control rogue elements helping the red ultras in their own capacity, one of the two officials, a ministry of home affairs official, said on condition of anonymity.

This is the first time NIA has come across instances of Nagas providing arms to Maoists, the officials added.

The MHA official termed this a “dangerous trend” and said it could derail peace talks between the Naga groups and the Indian government.

NSCN-IM’s Collective Leadership member VS Atem denied his outfit’s involvement: “We have nothing to do with smuggling of arms to anyone. Also, we haven’t heard anything from any investigation agency yet.”

The Bihar police, on February 7, intercepted a Tata Safari car and recovered five sophisticated weapons, including two Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGLs) and three AK 47 rifles, apart from a huge cache of ammunition. The government asked NIA to investigate the matter.

The central agency has claimed in its FIR, filed on February 28, that these weapons were being “smuggled from across Myanmar border with the help of some Naga undergrounds to be supplied to Maoists and gangsters in the country”.

According to NIA, further investigation revealed that the Naga militants, associated with NSCN-IM, were in touch with some members of TPC or Tritiya Prastuti Committee, a left wing extremists’ organisation which operates from Bihar and Jharkhand, and this arms consignment was meant for the latter.

Two CRPF officials confirmed that they have come across information related to Maoists being helped by Naga militants.

“The Naga militants indulge in smuggling of arms and ammunition to make money but if Maoists are ordering sophisticated weapons from them, then they need to be stopped,” said a CRPF officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

NIA is alslo trying to find out whether the February 7 case was a one-off incident or more arms have been supplied to the Naxals.

RN Ravi , the Deputy National Security Adviser, who is the centre’s interlocutor in the north-east, could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.

Recently, following a meeting with RN Ravi, NSCN-IM refused to settle for anything less than a Greater Nagaland state, and a separate flag and Naga constitution.

The outfit signed the Framework Agreement with the NDA government in 2015 and several meetings have taken place since involving various stakeholders, apex tribal bodies, legislators and civil society organisations in Nagaland, but with little progress.

First Published: Apr 06, 2019 02:16 IST