Guwahati,Samudra Gupta Kashyap: The Centre on Saturday sounded tough on the NSCN(K) that had abrogated the 15-year old ceasefire and had indulged in a series of violent attacks on security forces, with union home minister Rajnath Singh saying the government would to what was required to do with that faction. “The government will not talk to criminal groups,” he said. “It was not the government but the NSCN(K) which had unilaterally withdrawn itself from the ceasefire. It was unfortunate. It should not have done so. Now the government is doing what is required to do (with it),” Singh said at a press conference at the end of a marathon day-long security meeting with chief ministers of the seven Northeastern states here.
The home minister however said the government was “very serious” on peace talks with the NSCN(IM).
Reminding that the NSCN(K) was “still banned”, the home minister on the other hand described as nothing unusual the recent threat issued by NSCN(IM) against persons who refused to pay “tax” to the group in Nagaland. “There are many such groups which keep issuing threats. It is nothing unusual. Is there any answer to such threats?” he asked. The NSCN(IM) had two weeks ago warned all those who refused to pay “tax” to its underground government in Nagaland. The home minister however said the government was “very serious” on peace talks with the NSCN(IM).
“Now it will not take more time. However I can’t put a target date,” he said when asked if the Centre had a time-frame to conclude the peace talks and arrive at a solution. The government has been talking to the NSCN(IM) since 1997. Earlier, in his opening speech in the day-long security-related meeting with chief ministers of the Northeastern states, the union home minister said that though the overall level of insurgency in the region was at an all-time low, some small violent insurgent groups were still operating from their safe havens across the international border. “Of late, the India-Myanmar border has become more active as there are reports of insurgents, weapons and drugs crossing the border,” Singh said, pointing out that his ministry had already constituted a committee headed by Joint Intelligence Committee chief RN Ravi to review how to effectively manage the India-Myanmar border. The committee’s report is expected in the next few days, he informed.
There was also a need to tighten vigil along the Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Bhutan borders, Singh said, asking the chief ministers to open more police stations in the border areas to reinforce a sense of security among the population. Concern over kidnapping for ransom Singh however expressed concern over incidents of kidnapping for ransom, particularly in Assam and Meghalaya and said the number of such incidents had almost doubled. “In Garo Hills (Meghalaya), some new splinter groups were kidnapping and looting businessmen at gunpoint. Such criminal activities must be dealt with firmly,” he said, pointing out that the Centre would not talk to such criminal groups. “There has been a marked increase in low-visibility yet high-impact violent crimes like kidnapping for ransom and extortions in Assam and Meghalaya. It has severely undermined the common man’s access to justice. In some states, the ratio of prosecution of criminals in cases of serious crimes is disturbingly low, as low as 5 per cent against the all-Indian figure of over 85 per cent,” he said. “AFSPA will automatically withdraw” The home minister, who said that the present deployment of security forces in the Northeast was more than it was when insurgency was at its peak, also suggested a review and gradual reduction of forces from the region. “Without compromising with security, we must plan to reduce deployment so as to make the environment easy to encourage positive thinking of outsiders about the region on this aspect,” he said. When asked whether he also indicated gradual withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the different states, Singh said it (AFSPA) would be automatically withdrawn as the situation improved.
“AFSPA will automatically get withdrawn once the situation improved,” he said. Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang However, Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang said that the outfit would strike again and more violence was in store in the hill state in the immediate future. “Post abrogation of the ceasefire, by the NSCN(K), there has been sporadic incidents of violence indulged in by the NSCN(K). As per intelligence inputs, more violence are intended to be inflicted by the NSCN(K). The state government and security forces are taking all necessary precautionary measures,” Zeliang said. Zeliang, in his speech also expressed regret that his government was not informed about the NSCN(K)’s abrogation of ceasefire. “Had we been informed in advance by the ministry of home affairs, at least the state government could have tried through our NOs to persuade the NSCN(K) to continue the ceasefire in the interest of peace and as per the desire of the vast majority of the Nagas,” Chief Minister Zeliang said.
Zeliang also said that despite that the Nagaland Legislators’ Forum on Naga Political Issue through its parliamentary working committee had already decided to send a delegation of the Naga Hoho and Eastern Naga People’s Organisation (ENPO) to Myanmar to meet Khaplang and try to persuade him to “rebuild” the ceasefire with the government of India.