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House worried over arms loss

Kohima, Sept. 21: The Nagaland Assembly today took serious note of the frequent loss of arms and ammunition that mostly land in the hands of militants in the state.

Between 1998 and 2012, the state has lost 152 guns of different calibres and 44,550 rounds of ammunition. The lost weapons included automatic rifles like AK-47, SLR, carbine and machine guns. Most of these are now with militant outfits operating in the state.

Chief minister Neiphiu Rio said at the Assembly the ministry of home affairs had taken serious note of the loss of several weapons by police personnel and was making efforts to recover the arms from rebel groups through the ceasefire monitoring group.

Rio was replying to a question raised by leader of the Opposition, Tokheho Yepthomi, during question hour today.

The ceasefire monitoring group, which is headed by a retired army officer and comprises representatives from the Union government, the army, police, state government and rebel outfits, is the Centre’s arm in the state to enforce the ground rules associated with the ceasefire agreements signed with various rebels outfits of the state.

Rebel groups like the NSCN (I-M), NSCN (K), NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) and Naga National Council factions have signed ceasefire agreements with the Centre, with NSCN (I-M) involved in peace talks with Delhi.

Rio said the state government was making all efforts to curb insurgent activities in coordination with the Centre and termed the loss of weapons and ammunition as “shameful”. “It is a shame that our police personnel are robbing arms and ammunition.”

Dozens of police personnel had deserted the force and joined rebel outfits with arms and ammunition, a fact that Rio also confirmed.

He said the state government was pursuing the matter with the ministry of home affairs to bring the culprits to book. “Some of the deserters have taken shelter with rebels.” He said criminal cases had been filed against the police deserters. “Law will take its own course.”

While Yepthomi blamed police officers for the loss of arms and ammunition, both Treasury and Opposition benches called for stringent measures to check the losses.

Rio said some senior police officers were not doing what they should, while warning that the state government would take serious action against officers found neglecting their duties. He said action had already been initiated against some police officers and jawans for losing arms and ammunition.