Guwahati: At a time when talks between the Centre and Naga groups have reportedly reached the final stage, some top commanders of the separatist group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) faction are said to be camping in China and trying to convince the Sino leadership to help them fight for its cause against the Indian government.
Phungting Shimrang, the former chief and senior member of the NSCN-IM, has reportedly gone to Yunan province in China with two of his trusted comrades.
A top commander of a Myanmar-based rebel group told News18, “Phungting and his two comrades reached China via eastern Nagaland (Naga self-administered areas in Myanmar) in the second half of October. The three leaders are trying to talk to the Chinese authorities for aid in their fight against India.”
“NSCN-IM chief Anthony Shimray has also left the outfit’s headquarters camp in Hebron and is staying in an undisclosed location along the India-Myanmar border. More than 3,000 cadres of the IM faction have been were camping in the border areas since October,” the leader added.
During talks with representatives of the several Naga groups, the Government of India has ruled out a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas as demanded by the NSCN-IM, and made it clear that the endless negotiations with the insurgent group under the shadow of guns is not acceptable to it.
Nagaland Governor RN Ravi, who is also the chief interlocutor for the Naga talks, said the Centre is determined to conclude the decades-old peace process without further delay.
Paresh Baruah, the chief of United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I) faction, said, “Phungting Shimrang will not return to Camp Hebron along with his comrades. They have realised that GOI is not ready to give more power to the Nagas, especially as far as the flag and constitution are concerned. Hence, they are ready to fight again,” Baruah told News18 over the phone from an undisclosed location.
“We are closely monitoring the movement and strategy of the IM leadership, which is camping across border,” said a top commander of the rebel group.
Baruah said, “Nowadays, the situation and atmosphere have changed. The young leadership of the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the NSCN are trying to reach an understanding. There is mutual understanding for a war and over future activities.”
Former director general (Special Branch) of Assam Police, Pallab Bhattacharyya, said, “China will take advantage of these anti-Indian groups. It cannot directly start a war against India, but their agencies are always trying to create problems in the northeast through the NSCN, ULFA and Manipuri insurgent groups. Basically, China uses these outfits to wage a proxy war against India.”
He, however, added the situation has changed considerably and the young generation does not want a warlike situation to prevail in Nagaland. They want development in their areas and the government is working on it, Bhattacharyya said.
The final talks between the Centre and Nagas is likely to stretch further as the modalities of the agreement are yet to be finalised. As reported earlier, the much-awaited solution to the decades-old problem may not fructify before Christmas.
Though the exact terms and conditions of the agreement have not been disclosed by either of the parties, sources said one of the key demands of the Naga groups is grant of autonomy to the Nagas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The NSCN-IM is said to be looking for a foolproof deal so that the government is unable to either backtrack or stop short of implementing the agreed points, as they believe have happened on earlier occasions.
Meanwhile, the GOI on Tuesday said the governments of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be duly consulted before the final settlement of the decades-old Naga insurgency problem.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha that there has been considerable progress in the ongoing Naga peace talks and almost all the Naga underground groups are engaging with the Central government in the process.
“All stakeholders, including the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, will be duly consulted before any settlement is arrived at with the Naga groups and their concerns taken into consideration,” he said in replying to a written question in the House.