Anil Kamboj IG (Retd)
As it appears but unfortunately it is not so quite in Nagaland. The taxation structure is a diktat of the NSCN (IM). In one interview, NSCN (IM) general secretary ThuingalengMuivah had once told that it is not a diktat but a “convention” that was followed earlier and is being practised now. Huge banners sprung up about two months back in Nagaland for a rally against the parallel tax structure imposed by underground groups.
While insurgent groups term it taxation, in the eyes of the general public it is extortion from the salaried class, businessmen and contractors by the rebels and that too to fund their own needs. People in different parts of Nagaland have also been protesting against the collection of so-called “taxes” by NSCN (IM) and many of them have stopped paying the rebels, creating tension in the State in the past few months. The protests reflect how public opinion in Nagaland is going against the insurgents. The general feeling among the Naga people is that they have lost (their) faith in the present Naga National Workers. It is felt that these leaders are more interested in making money than fighting for the Nagas and their cause. The younger generations especially the educated youth do not have soft feeling for these rebel groups and feel that the ageing leadership appears to be out of touch with rest of the younger generation. It is only the less educated and unemployed youth who are lured by these groups. The people defied the call given by the group not to participate in the rally. This was unheard of in the entire North-East, leave alone Nagaland, because no one ever dared question the NSCN (IM).
The more recent developments at the Mukalini camp are a clear case of empowerment of the Naga civil society. On December 21, cadres of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M), from one of the faction’s designated ceasefire camps in Mukalimi, in Zunheboto district, stopped a taxi, roughed up several passengers and allegedly molested two missionaries. These two ladies were of the Sumi, or Sema, tribe. Zunheboto, North-East of Kohima, the State’s capital, is the tribe’s homeland. This triggered off the disturbance. The people surrounded the camp with all sorts of local weapons and cut off the supplies to the camp. Matter went out of control and firefight took place. On December 30, the angered people over ran the NSCN (IM) camp and set it on fire. The cadres were chased away. Despite the fact that the Sumi Nagas and NSCN (IM) chairman IsakChisiSwu belong to the same Sema tribe. Five protestors were killed and one injured when the insurgents opened fire, two insurgents were found dead in the camp.
NSCN-IM has revealed for the first time that it has hundreds of members and several offices in foreign countries. Reiterating its stand on collection of ‘tax’ from the people, the group said it had to collect ‘tax’ from the Naga-inhabited areas of Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Myanmar to support its members in foreign countries. The outfit also warned the ACAUT of Naga Council Dimapur, who had asked the people not to pay tax to the militants. The NSCN (IM) alleged that the ACAUT was hand-in-glove with its adversaries to undermine Naga nationalism and the outfit would never tolerate this.
As per report the NSCN-IM has a strong base in Bangladesh somewhere in Chittagong Hill Tracks from where arms are supplied to the outfit’s camps in the region. It also has offices in the United States, Germany, Netherlands, China, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
The outfit’s annual budget has increased manifold as a result of heavy recruitment and procurement of arms from foreign countries, to over INR 1 billion per year. According to intelligence sources, there are nearly 25,000 NSCN members. The salaries of the members range between INR 2,000 and INR 15,000, according to their rank.
Thai gun runner, Willy Narue, arrested in Bangkok on August 30, 2013, has revealed about the supply chain for smuggling arms from China to the North-East India through Bangladesh. He revealed that he, along with the leaders of NSCN-IM, had hatched a plan to send a huge consignment of arms and ammunitions from China to the North-East.
Nine highly decomposed bodies with bullet marks were recovered from a drain in Dimapur district of Nagaland during last week December late in the night, triggering fear of violence in neighbouring KarbiAnglong district of Assam as one of the bodies turned out to be of a Karbi youth. The next day five motorcycle-borne youths allegedly killed a Karbi youth at the Nagaland-Assam border point of Khatkhati in KarbiAnglong district. On December 27, clash between Karbi and Rengma Naga militants in Karbi Anglong district led to an ethnic flare-up in the district. Four Rengma Naga villagers died and more than three thousand displaced in the clashes which has evoked sharp criticism from Nagaland. People are stuck up in Mokukchung as they cannot travel to Dimapur due to the prevailing tension.
The dialogue with Isak-Muivah led faction of the Naga rebel group, NSCN (IM), has not seen any concrete progress. More than 80 rounds of talks were held between the Centre and the NSCN, led by Swu and Muivah but nothing concrete could come out of these talks in the last 16 years of truce. The Centre had ruled out sovereignty and Naga integration of the Naga-inhabited areas, the core demands of the outfit. As per NSCN, they have dropped the demand for Naga integration for the time being and would take it up later with the Government. For now, the outfit insists on self-administration by Nagas in the areas inhabited by them. The charter of demands included the demand for a “pan-Naga” and “federal” system. A federal system would serve the Naga people’s purpose and through pan-Naga blueprint, they want more development in the Naga inhabited areas.
As per Joint Secretary North- East, there is need for involvement and consent of the Governments of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland regarding the demands of NSCN (IM), the Centre is yet to give any reply to the Naga rebel group. The Government is also not sure whether the demands raised by NSCN (IM) are the collective aspirations of the Naga people. The Government is however exploring the possibilities to give more recognition to the Nagas living in these three States. On November 21, 2013 the dialogue between the two sides was held after a year’s gap and both sides agreed to meet again soon to take forward the peace process. It appears that Centre has begun cold shouldering the NSCN-IM leadership. The Government has to be careful not to delay the peace process much as some restless leaders could even attempt to pull the plug on the peace process.
(The writer is former Inspector General of Border Security Force. At present he is Professor at New Delhi Institute of Management Approved by AICTE & AIU.)