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Murder bid slur strains Naga drive

Dimapur, Feb. 15: Raising fears of a revival of the bullet-for-bullet battle in Nagaland, the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) accused the rival Isak-Muivah group of trying to kill one of its deputy ministers today.

The group led by the Myanmar-based S.S. Khaplang has asked the NSCN(I-M) to rein in its cadre, but stopped short of issuing any threat.

The Khaplang group’s charge has brought the fast-paced and much-hyped reconciliation process between the two warring factions on the brink of collapse.

Speaking from Zunheboto, NSCN(K) deputy kilonser K. Mulatonu claimed that about 35 activists of the NSCN (I-M) attacked the residence of deputy kilonser (external affairs) C. Signson at Athibung in the wee hours and tried to kill him.

“Our activists repulsed the attack but this is a serious breach of trust. Relations will be seriously damaged if Isak and Muivah did not clarify the incident. Singson is a senior member of the ceasefire supervisory board from our side,” he said.

However, the convener of the NSCN (I-M)’s ceasefire monitoring cell, Phungthing Shimrang, said he was not aware of the incident. “I don’t know anything about it.”

NSCN(K) leader Mulatonu, an influential member of the organisation, said the gunbattle continued for nearly 30 minutes before the “attackers fled the scene”.

He urged the ceasefire monitoring supervisory chairman Lt Gen. (retd) R.V. Kulkarni and the Union home ministry to take note of the situation and control the other side.

Mulatonu said leaders of the rival group were getting restive and violent when the people of Mon asked NSCN (I-M) activists to leave the district after militants beat up several youths of the town.

“A public meeting was held here (Zunheboto town) yesterday demanding that the NSCN (I-M) pay compensation of Rs 80 lakh to the injured youths by February 17. The youths were beaten up and maimed for life by NSCN (I-M) activist,” he said.

The reconciliation process suffered a major setback earlier in the week after the NSCN (I-M) termed the Naga National Council’s (NNC) proposed meet at Wokha on Wednesday as “ridiculous”.

The relations strained after the Isak-Muivah group described the NNC top brass in the Wokha region as a bunch of “self-styled ridiculous leaders” who work as “work-charge labourers, dak runners and peons”.

The peace process took another beating when the Khaplang faction took strong exception to a letter purportedly sent by the rival Isak-Muivah group asking it to “repent for past mistakes”. The letter was delivered to the NSCN(K) leadership in Myanmar by members of a non-government organisation.

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