Expressing anger over the Centre's reported directive to Assam Rifles for intensifying operations outside Nagaland, NSCN-IM, the Naga rebel group in ceasefire said such a move was a symbol of weakness and insincerity of the government.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs issuing directive to the Assam Rifles to intensify operations against NSCN has come as rude shock. Naga political issue cannot be undermined in such a manner that contradict the well-established historical and political rights of the Naga people spread across Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. The political right of the Naga people is no longer an issue that necessitated any review," the NSCN-IM said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
The statement was issued amid reports that the Centre asked Assam Rifles to step up operations against Naga rebel groups operating outside Nagaland.
The NSCN, which have carried out armed battle since Independence claiming that Nagas were never part of India, signed a ceasefire agreement in 1997. But security forces have claimed that the ceasefire was maintained in Nagaland only but members of the outfit were carrying out extortion and other violent activities in other parts of the Northeast, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. But NSCN-IM rejected the allegation saying the ceasefire was for all areas having Naga population.
The oufit signed a Framework Agreement in August 2015 and was preparing to sign the final pact soon to end the decades-old Naga conflict. But the outfit's insistence for recognition to Naga flag and Constitution has emerged as a stumbling block for the final agreement.
"The Framework Agreement is a symbol of our olive branch to India, our desire to co-exist peacefully as good neighbors. However, this has not been reciprocated with the correct political steps. Naga people believe in solution based on mutual respect of each other’s position. But we do not believe in force union bereft of any political wisdom. Nor do we believe in carrot and stick policy that will only complicate what has been achieved in all these years of negotiation," the statement said.
"In such a situation NSCN members cannot allow themselves to be sitting ducks. Our patience should not be translated as weak and helpless. The consequences, therefore, will be disastrous for both the parties. This is never in the interest of ceasefire across Naga areas," it said.
The statement was issued on a day army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane reviewed the security situation in the Northeast at Dimapur in Nagaland. Naravane also met Nagaland Governor R N Ravi and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and discussed the issues concerning talks with Naga groups. He assured army's assistance to maintain law and order in the Northeast, particularly along the Indo-Myanmar border.