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Insurgency

‘Naga national flag’ hoisted across Naga-inhabited areas on ‘Independence Day

The influential Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) on Wednesday hoisted the ‘Naga national flag’ to celebrate the 73rd ‘Naga Independence Day’ across the Naga-inhabited areas, including Myanmar.

On August 14, 1947, leaders belonging to various Naga tribes came together to unfurl their ‘national flag’ in Kohima, now the capital of Nagaland which attained statehood in December 1963. This was to ‘assert their right to independence’ after the transfer of power from the British to ‘Indians’.

The ‘Naga Independence Day’ has been an annual event, but the celebration this year attained significance in the wake of the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir making the former State’s red flag with three vertical stripes and a plough redundant.

NSF president Ninoto Awomi, however, said there was no political message in the unfurling of the ‘Naga national flag’ at the Naga Solidarity Park in Kohima and all other Naga-inhabited areas simultaneously at 11 am.

“The NSF has been observing the day not to show that the Nagas are against India but to celebrate our identity, culture, history, and rights. More than a 1,000 people turned up for celebrating the day in Kohima,” he told The Hindu on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the State government instructed the deputy commissioners of all the 11 districts to make the NSF units “aware of the legality of their action [hosting the flag]” that could “create unwanted situation and may lead to grievous law and order problem”.

‘Common Naga flag’

Mr. Awomi said the flag unfurled on Wednesday was the “common Naga flag’. The flag – blue with a whitish star and a rainbow running almost diagonally – is similar to that used by the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, which has been seeking a separate flag as part of the peace deal.

But the Naga National Council (NNC), the first extremist group of the Naga Hills, said the original ‘Naga national flag’ should ideally be hoisted to mark the show of rebellion in 1947. There is clarity on the colour and design of the flag unfurled that year.

The first Naga flag is considered to be the one that the NNC, formed by the legendary Angami Zapu Phizo in 1946, hoisted on March 22, 1956.

The Hindu

Insurgency

Kashmir Valley’s shadow on the Naga Hills

Nagaland is governed by Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees certain protection to Nagas. Governor Ravi has already promised 371(A) won’t be touched.

From Srinagar to Kohima may be a long and distant 3,000 km, but the recent developments in troubled Kashmir may have a heavy bearing on the impending fortunes of the evolving Naga issue. And vice versa.

On the two key demands—a separate constitution and a distinct flag for Nagas—the Naga underground leaders often alluded to Kashmir which till last week had both.

Three years ago, VS Atem, emissary to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) collective leadership and a key figure in the ongoing talks, had told this journalist: “If Kashmir can have a separate flag, why not Nagas?”

Now with no example to point to after the watering down of Article 370 and abrogating of 35A on August 5, it will be interesting to see how the talks between New Delhi and the NSCN-IM pans out.

Particularly as the constitution and flag issue continue to be unresolved ones.

It is well understood that the talks between New Delhi and the NSCN-IM has reached a certain level of mutual comfort and understanding. Initiated about 22 years ago, the progress in the talks was recorded in the Framework Agreement signed in 2015. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and present home minister Amit Shah in attendance, the document was inked by NSCN-IM’s general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and RN Ravi, the interlocutor who is currently the governor of Nagaland.

The ongoing talks followed the incremental model. It meant all points of agreement were sealed and locked up while the negotiations continued on the difficult and prickly issues. And the impossible ones kept out.

So issues like complete sovereignty or total independence for Nagas, separate currency were ruled out.

Agreements on transferring federal powers were reached and sealed. While deliberations continued on the difficult ones. Like a separate constitution, a separate flag or the carving out of a ‘Greater Nagalim’ by incorporating Naga-dominated areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Admitted that there can be no comparison between the Kashmir and the Naga issues as they are as different as can be, but it will be interesting to see New Delhi’s response to imminent questions like how it abolished certain privileges in Kashmir but granted them or retains them in Nagaland post the expected agreement.

Nagaland is governed by Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees certain protection to Nagas. Governor Ravi has already promised 371(A) won’t be touched.It will also be interesting to see if the Centre gives special treatment to the backward districts of the state in a way not much different from the granting of Union Territory status to Ladakh. Incidentally, a delegation of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) representing the backward tribes of eastern Nagaland was in the national capital on Tuesday (August 13) at the Centre’s request for a parley. Seemingly, New Delhi is brewing quite a potion.

by Sanjib Kr Baruah

Insurgency, Terrorism

NSCN (IM) Vows to Defeat ISIS in Case They Choose to ‘Attack’ Nagaland

National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), a north east based rebel group, has said that it is ready to protect its people if Islamic State (IS) attacks in Nagaland. After the serial bomb blasts in Sri Lanka, the group has sounded an alert on its’ arms wing ‘Naga Army’ and their intelligence.

Speaking to mediapersons, V Horam, the executive member of the Steering Committee of NSCN(IM), said, ‘‘Our Naga Army is ready to defeat the ISIS. A strict order has been issued and our intelligence wing is active.’’

‘‘If outside forces want to disturb peace, we won’t sit quietly. We will defeat such forces. That’s why we have alerted our Naga Army,’’ Horam added.

The attackers in Sri Lanka targeted churches on Easter Sunday.

Nagaland’s population is 1.978 million, out of which 88 per cent are Christians. The census of 2011 recorded the state’s Christian population at 1,739,651, making it one of the three Christian-majority states in India along with Meghalaya and Mizoram. Huge churches can be found in Wokha, Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung districts in the state.

On April 22, Nagaland chief secretary Temjen Toy directed the Director General of Police to review the preparedness in case a similar incident happens in the hill state. In a letter to DGP, Inspector General of Assam Rifles (North) and Joint Director, SIB, the chief secretary wrote, “The bomb blasts that took place in Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, needs to be examined in the right perspective as the possibility of such incidents occurring even in Nagaland can’t be ruled out. Director General of 
Police, Nagaland may, therefore, have a thorough review of the States preparedness on preventing similar incidents in Nagaland”.

Meanwhile, the Christ Council of Nagalim (CNC) will show their solidarity to the Sri Lankan victims on April 21. CNC has announced that all its churches shall have a special prayer in the first hour of Sunday Worship Service on April 28. (Source: News 18)

Insurgency

India, Myanmar army conduct mega ops to protect Kaladan project near border

The Kaladan project aims to connect India and Myanmar by sea and land and is expected to be operational by 2020.

Senior Indian army officers have confirmed that more than 12000 Indian troops were deployed along the India-Myanmar border between February 17 and March 2 but categorically dismissed reports of a cross-border strike by Indian armed forces along the lines of last month’s air force strike on Balakot in Pakistan.

The recent deployment, which reportedly comprised mainly of Assam Rifles units being moved south to the Myanmar border, took place simultaneous to a crackdown by the Myanmar army against rebels who were threatening and trying to extort money from Indian personnel working on the USD 484-billion Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project in Myanmar being funded by India. The project aims to connect India and Myanmar by sea and land and is expected to be operational by 2020.

While the officers confirmed that India and Myanmar were in touch diplomatically ahead of the operation with the two armies holding several meetings to plan it, it was by no means a cross-border strike as is being portrayed in some reports. “We operated in coordination with the Myanmar army and our main aim was to prevent these elements from moving into India,” said a second senior officer in the military establishment, who did not want to be named.

“We don’t need to cross the Myanmar border because there is a mutual understanding on both sides and the Myanmar army largely obliges with whatever we ask them for,” said a senior army officer closely monitoring the North-east. “The Myanmar rebels have been creating more problems on their side than ours. At their request, we had killed 5 of their rebels and captured 8-10 on our side in 2017. Thus, the Myanmar army, too, struck the separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khalang) HQ in Taga on our behalf”.

At least 12 rebel positions were destroyed by the Myanmar Army which was armed with Indian hardware, a senior army officer said. Among other things, India shared radio sets with the Myanmar Army for “ease of communication and to prevent incidents of friendly fire.”

While confirming that at least one soldier of the Myanmar Army was critically injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast, they dismissed reports that two Indian army jawans had been killed in a skirmish with Myanmar-based rebels in Vathuampui on the Mizo-Myanmar border.

Insurgency

Myanmar Army takes over HQ of NSCN-K rebels

by Monoj Anand

Guwahati: The ongoing war against terrorism is not only restricted to northern frontier but the anti-terrorism diplomacy of the Indian government has started paying dividend on the Eastern frontier as well with Myanmar Army taking over the physical control of NSCN-K headquarters and driving out Indian terrorists from Taga area of Myanmar.

Over 500 security personnel of Myanmar Army have dismantled the hideouts of Indian insurgent groups and taken over physical control of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) headquarters last week, authoritative security sources said that the Myanmar Army has taken this step after NSCN-K refused to follow the order of the Myanmar Army to drive out all the non-citizen terrorists and armed rebels from their camps.

Pointing out that steps of Myanmar has scattered the Indian insurgent groups who were operating from Taga, security sources said that the Myanmar Army has also confiscated a large number of arms and ammunition from the insurgents who have taken shelter in forest areas.

Admitting that the Myanmar Army has not resorted to aggressive military action on insurgents, security sources said that the rebels have been told to return to India instead of trying to set up fresh shelters in Myanmar.

It is significant that most of the active militant groups of the Northeast have bases in Myanmar and are using the facilities of NSCN (K). Though, the exact number of militants now in Myanmar is yet to be ascertained, the security agencies believe that at least 2,000 cadres of active militant groups are still holed up in the neighbouring country. They include around 150 members of the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) and around 100 cadre of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (S).

About the recent media report which indicated the death of a few top Ulfa-I leaders in Myanmar Army’s operations, sources said that they are yet to ascertain claims of Ulfa-I chief Paresh Baruah who said that his top commander Jytirmoy Asom was killed in the operation by the Myanmar Army. Sources, however, said that some Ulfa-I commanders are reported to have died due to prolonged illness.

Informing that the Myanmar government is keeping India informed about their action against terrorists, sources said that the Myanmar Army has already occupied a number of outposts and training schools in their crackdown to ensure a total prevention of illegal armed insurgent groups infiltrating into Burmese soil.

Admitting that Ulfa-I chief Paresh Baruah has been trying to motivate its cadres not to leave Myanmar, sources said that it would be difficult for Ulfa-I and NDFB leadership to hold back their cadres in the present circumstances.