New Delhi, April 21: The first wave from Myanmar’s democracy touched India recently and the Centre is taking advantage of it.
On April 9, an Indian militant leader, Y. Wangtin Naga, a Konyak from Mon district of Nagaland, signed a five-point ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar government at Khamti in Sagaing province. Signing a peace pact with the Nagas in northern Myanmar is the first sign of democracy affecting the Northeast.
Wangtin and six others of the NSCN (Khaplang) signed the agreement with the Sagaing region minister for security and border affairs, Col Kyi Naing. Sagaing chief minister U Tha Aye was present during the signing at Khamti, official sources said.
Naga rebels are present in Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in India and in northern Myanmar where the Hemi Naga, SS Khaplang, runs a virtual kingdom. Khaplang’s group, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K), is the first militant group to sign a pact with both India and Myanmar.
The NSCN (K) signed a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi in 2003 but has not held a dialogue with the government. Its principal rival, NSCN (I-M), is fighting for Nagalim, an administrative unit that includes all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast and some areas in Myanmar.
This week, New Delhi acted apparently in response to the development in Myanmar. The government recognised the rival faction of the NSCN (K) led by Kitovi Zhimomi and Khole Konyak. In June 2011, the Khaplang-led group split, one led by Kughalu Mulatonu and Wangtin, the other by Kitovi and Khole.
The Kitovi-Khole group will sign a ceasefire pact with Delhi later this month. “We have told them to decide on the name of their organisation,” said a government source. “Since Kitovi is the so-called ato kilonser (Prime Minister), he can sign the agreement,” said the source. It is not clear, however, whether this meant de-recognising the largely Myanmar-based Khaplang faction.
The Khamti truce brings to an end the hostilities between Naga rebels and the Myanmar army, which intermittently fight pitched battles.
Veena Sikri, a former envoy to Bangladesh and professor at the MMAJ Academy of International Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, said the development showed Myanmar was coming to grips with the ethnic groups. “Myanmar is adjusting to the concept of a federal structure,” she said.
The five points of the truce include cessation of armed conflict with the Myanmar army, opening of a liaison office by NSCN (K) at Khamti for further talks, co-ordination among both sides for carrying arms beyond their agreed jurisdiction, free movement of unarmed NSCN cadres within Myanmar and holding of sustained negotiations.
When Union home secretary R.K. Singh visited Naypyidaw in February this year, the peace plans were apparently discussed with his Myanmar counterpart, sources said.