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Swu sneaks out of border

Kohima/New Delhi, Oct. 5: Just as he had come in unnoticed through Bangladesh last year, Naga insurgent leader Isak Chishi Swu tiptoed out of the country a couple of days ago, leaving a trail of red faces in the security establishment.

A member of the NSCN (I-M) confirmed today that Swu, the reclusive chairman of the outfit, left for an “undisclosed location”.

The general secretary of the organisation, Thuingaleng Muivah, will leave too, after meeting political leaders in New Delhi to ascertain whether they intend to take the peace process forward, he said.

A home ministry official said a round of talks was slated for next week, most likely on October 10.

On whether Delhi knew that Swu had left the country, he said there was no official confirmation. “We don’t know yet but there is talk about it in Nagaland.”

Sources said Swu sneaked into Bangladesh via Shillong and left for Bangkok. He had taken the same route for his entry into Nagaland. This route has been the safest for Naga separatists and other northeastern militant groups that have camps in Bangladesh.

Swu and Muivah were based at Camp Hebron near Dimapur, the council headquarters of the NSCN (I-M), since last year. Their Dutch visas lapsed while they were here and the Netherlands government reportedly refused to renew them.

Nobody seems to know — and the NSCN (I-M) is not telling — on what passport Swu sneaked out of the country. Intelligence agencies are convinced that his Bangladesh connection will bail him out.

Naga insurgent leaders are known to use Dhaka as a transit point despite Delhi pressuring that country to disown militant groups of the Northeast.

It is not clear what prompted Swu to leave the country just ahead of another round of talks, though the NSCN (I-M) has been indicating that it is ready to abrogate its ceasefire with Delhi — extended indefinitely by mutual consent a few months ago — and go “back to the jungle”.

The convenor of the outfit’s ceasefire monitoring cell, Phungthing Shimrang, said it does not make sense to remain in ceasefire with a government that was acting like “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” and allegedly using several agencies to undermine the Naga peace process and divide the Naga people.

He accused security forces of remote-controlling the Khaplang faction of the NSCN, which gunned down two of its members in Kohima just the other day.

The NSCN (I-M)’s primary demand is integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of the region with Nagaland.

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