Rebel politics keeps Nagaland trade hub on boil
This commercial hub in India's northeast is on the boil with armed men killing, kidnapping and terrorising people, casting a shadow on the Naga peace process ahead of the March 5 state assembly polls.
Attacks against non-tribal traders began a few months ago and, despite heightened police and paramilitary vigil in Dimapur, a bustling town, armed militants lobbed a grenade at a hardware store on Wednesday, killing its manager and injuring two others.
Dimapur is the biggest town in Nagaland and the only place in the entire state to have a railhead. The supplies of all essentials and other commodities to the rest of the state originate from this commercial hub.
On Thursday shops and businesses were down in Dimapur in protest against Wednesday's attack that led to the death of a trader. The Dimapur Naga Students' Union took out a protest march through the town.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland faction headed by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah (NSCN-IM) has blamed cadres of a small breakaway group headed by its former leader Azheto Chophy to be behind the attacks on non-tribal traders in the town.
"The authorities have chosen to turn a blind eye to these activities and this goes to indicate that the government of India is patronising the breakaway bunch of cadres," V. Horam, a senior NSCN-IM leader, told IANS.
Horam said cadres belonging to the breakaway group have been indulging in kidnappings for ransom and have even killed a "few people" for their failure to pay up.
Police said there was tension, but they were taking the required measures.
"Some tension is there and we have placed paramilitary troopers on alert in the city, besides round-the-clock mobile patrols and special operation teams in civvies to check any attempts at extortion," Tukhavi (one name), a sub-divisional police officer of Dimapur, told IANS.
"We shall not allow anybody to take law into their hands."
The NSCN-IM had clamped what it called "an emergency" Jan 12 to stop an internal revolt after some 50 cadres left the group to form the NSCN (Unification) under Chophy's leadership.
The NSCN-IM, pressing for a Naga homeland in northeastern India, has been engaged in peace talks with the Indian government ever since entering into a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi in July 1997.
Over the years, the group appears to be keen on unifying the Naga-inhabited areas in the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with the Naga majority state of Nagaland.
The former NSCN-IM leader Chophy held talks with the rival NSCN-Khaplang group in December last year, announced the merger of the two factions, and renamed the outfit as NSCN. This development indicated that all was not well within the NSCN-IM and that the group was witnessing internal dissent.
The unrest in Dimapur is significant because Nagaland is currently under president's rule and is on an election mode with the polls fixed for March 5. The prevailing situation is likely to cast a big shadow on the coming elections that is going to see a fight between the ousted Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN), and the Congress, which is desperate to stage a comeback.
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