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Naga rebel round-up for camps

Kohima, Nov. 24: Security forces in Nagaland have begun a special operation to force “wandering” members of the NSCN (I-M) and the rival Khaplang group into their designated camps before Isak Chisi Swu and Th. Muivah arrive in India for the next round of peace talks.

Members of the two outfits had clashed in parts of the state a few months back, forcing the chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group to set a deadline for their return to the designated camps. The deadline of November 20 was, however, ignored by the majority of the militants.

The highest concentration of armed militants is in Phek and Zunheboto districts.

Brig. N.C. Marwah, the deputy inspector-general of the Assam Rifles’ south range, said the militants were reluctant to remain confined to the designated camps. “Some rebels were recently spotted in civilian areas. However, nobody has confronted security forces engaged in the special operation at Chozuba in Phek district. That itself is a positive sign.”

Another Assam Rifles official said security forces were conducting a low-key operation. “Action is taken only when a concentration of armed cadre is observed.”

The government last month marked seven camps each for the NSCN (I-M) and the Khaplang faction. Senior functionaries of the two outfits were issued identity cards.

Lt. Gen. R.B. Kulkarni, who heads the ceasefire monitoring group, said tribal organisations, village and town councils and non-governmental organisations had been requested to persuade the militants to move into their designated camps and intimate security forces about the presence of any cadre in “civilian areas”.

The designated camps for the NSCN (K) are at Athibung in Peren district, Chukithong in Wokha, Suruhoto in Zunheboto, Yangpi and Panso in Tuensang, Tiru in Mon and Longmisa in Mokokchung.

The camps for the NSCN (I-M) are at Ngam, Tsuma and Punglwa in Kohima district, Sitikama in Dimapur, Chungtiya in Mokokchung, Phiro in Wokha and Salumi in Tuensang.

Personnel from state and Central agencies are barred from venturing into areas within a one-km radius of these camps. Movement of militant cadre into “inhabited areas” is permitted, provided they do not carry weapons. The camps are away from villages, administrative establishments and highways. If any militant shifts from one camp to another, the chairman of the ceasefire-monitoring group has to be informed about it in advance.

A few days after the locations of the camps were announced, the NSCN (K) demanded another camp in Dimapur. However, the outfit did not specify the exact location.

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