New NSCN faction confuses Naga insurgent politics

May 22nd, 2008 - 3:44 pm ICT by admin  

Kohima, May 22 (IANS) The peace process in Nagaland has received a setback with news of a new insurgent faction emerging barely six months after a split in the frontline group headed by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah. The development has turned the Naga insurgency scenario extremely hazy, analysts said.

Though the Swu-Muivah led National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN-IM Thursday denied it had suffered another split, a new group calling itself the United Naga People’s Council (UNPC) has come up in the past few weeks and threatened to “root out the NSCN-IM”.

“The UNPC is a bogus outfit and is floated by a ‘major’ belonging to the group formed by one of our former members Azheto Chophy. There has been no defection from our group,” Phungthing Shimrang, a spokesperson of the NSCN-IM, said.

The NSCN-IM, by far the largest of the Naga rebel factions, suffered a split in November last year after about 50 members led by Chophy, a senior leader, walked away to form the NSCN-Unification (NSCN-U).

Until this development, there were just two NSCN factions — the NSCN-IM and the group headed by S.S. Khaplang or the NSCN-K. The NSCN-U cosied up to the NSCN-K soon after its formation. The allegiance of the new group, the UNPC, is not immediately known.

The parent NSCN split into the IM and Khaplang factions in 1988.

Factionalism within the NSCN has led to bloody fights in recent months with as many as 14 rebels being killed in a single instance last week when men of the NSCN-IM and NSCN-U battled each other near Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub.

The emergence of two new NSCN factions in the past six months has made the task of the government peace negotiators all the more difficult. The main question being asked is: will peace return to the Naga areas if the government were to sign a peace deal with just one of the Naga rebel factions?

“We do not know what is the status of the NSCN (U) with the government of India,” Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said.

“All the groups must bury their differences and the government must talk to all of them if we are to have a permanent solution to the problem,” A. Lotha, a church leader, said.

The NSCN-IM has been engaged in peace talks with New Delhi ever since the group signed a ceasefire agreement with the government August 1997. A decade later, a solution is nowhere in sight.

The NSCN-IM’s key rival, the NSCN-K, too, had signed a truce with the government in 2001 but has not entered into peace talks yet. Now, there are two new factions to contend with.

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