The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NSCN extracts Kuki peace promise

Kohima, March 30: Changing from practitioner of violence to peacemaker, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has extracted a promise from the militant Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) not to attack the Karbi community of Assam’s troubled Karbi Anglong district.

The KRA gave this assurance to leaders of the NSCN (I-M) during a meeting in Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub, last night. Several senior KRA functionaries met the NSCN (I-M) team a day after the Naga group offered to mediate between them and the anti-talks faction of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS).

NSCN (I-M) deputy information kilonser (minister) K. Chawang today said a senior adviser of the Kuki group led the delegation. “They got in touch with us after we made public our wish to broker peace between the people of Karbi Anglong,” he said.

Chawang, however, said the NSCN (I-M) was officially still not the mediator. “We want to help bring peace and they (the KRA) have assured us on this. That is it as of now.”

A source said leaders of the Naga militant group were scheduled to hold talks with representatives of the UPDS, but declined to say when and where.

Naga rebel leaders said they did not want a repeat of the violence Karbi Anglong witnessed last week because that would trigger tension across the region.

The UPDS said recently that the rival KRA was being patronised by a militant organisation of Nagaland and that the Kuki group had established a base in that state, particularly Dimapur. Like the Karbis, the Naga community clashed with the Kukis in Manipur in the 1990s. Scores of lives were lost in that conflict.

The NSCN (I-M), now engaged in a dialogue for peace with Delhi, has been projecting itself as both law-enforcer and peacemaker in recent times. Earlier this year, the militant group apprehended James Haokip, the man who is supposed to have masterminded the abduction and murder of Manipur minister Francis Ngajokpa’s daughter Lungnila Elizabeth.

Yesterday, Assam social welfare minister Goutam Roy said he had requested NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah to help secure the release of Hailakandi-based BJP leader Pratul Chandra Deb from militant captivity.

Deb, who is Roy’s brother-in-law, was taken hostage on March 17 by an organisation that professes to represent the Bru tribe.

A greater challenge for the NSCN (I-M) is, however, to end the Kuki-Karbi conflict. The KRA has killed 40 people, including 33 villagers on a single day, since March 24. Its members have also torched 50-odd houses belonging to Karbi people.

The UPDS, which claims to be the protector of the indigenous people of the hill district, has vowed to avenge the killings. Security has been beefed up across Karbi Anglong, but the district remains restive.

People from different tribes yesterday spilled onto the streets in a show of solidarity against violence. Rallies were held in Diphu town, the district headquarters, and elsewhere at the initiative of the Karbi Students and Youth Forum (KSYF).

Security personnel were pelted with stones in some places, but there was no major breach of law and order during the rallies.

The youth forum blamed the Karbi Anglong administration for the situation in the district, saying the authorities had not provided adequate security to the “indigenous people”. It demanded a judicial inquiry into the killings and arson by Kuki militants last week.

In a memorandum to chief minister Tarun Gogoi, the KSYF urged the government to take steps immediately to flush out Kuki militants who have migrated to the district. It said the entry of more Kuki militants into the district over the past month was cause for concern.

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