The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clash spoils Naga unity bid

Kohima, April 16: A bloody clash between the two NSCN factions on the eve of Easter marred the festive atmosphere and dealt a blow to another initiative by the Naga Hoho to unite warring tribal groups of Nagaland.

Three militants were killed in the clash yesterday morning between the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions at Hongphoi village, 12 km from Mon town. The NSCN (I-M) lost two members and the NSCN (K) one of its activists. Four more militants and a civilian were injured.

The slain NSCN (K) activist was identified as Akaito Sema.

The NSCN (K) claimed that a group of about 20 NSCN (I-M) activists fired on its men while they were passing by the village on a “routine patrol” around 5 am.

In another development, the Zeliangrong Students’ Union in Kohima blamed two NSCN (I-M) activists for the attack on one of its members, identified as Suiding Hinglak, in Kohima last week.

Clashes between the two NSCN factions have been reported from various parts of the state in recent months. The Chakesang Mothers’ Association (CMA) recently protested against factional clashes in Phek district.

Apart from the two NSCN factions, the Federal Government of Nagaland (Naga National Council-Adinno) has a presence in Phek district. This results in intermittent clashes. Extortion is also rampant in the district.

The NSCN (K) faction has reacted to the fresh unification campaign with cynicism. NSCN (K) leader Wangtin Konyak said the reconciliation process should have started in 1997, when its rival signed its ceasefire agreement with Delhi.

Reacting to the statement, the NSCN (I-M) leadership said the unity and reconciliation of the Naga people was on top of its agenda, adding it would support any unity bid, including the initiative taken by the Naga Hoho.

The latest clash between the two groups came just a day after the Naga Hoho revealed that it was planning to form a “broad-based reconciliation committee” to explore the possibility of uniting various factions.

The committee, Naga Hoho acting president Keviletuo Angami said, would be formed after taking all the “federating tribes” into confidence.

Sources said the committee would have leaders from all walks of life, including politicians and Church representatives. The strength of the panel could be restricted to less than 10 to enable it to function as a cohesive unit.

The fresh attempt at reconciliation by the Naga Hoho comes close on the heels of interaction between the organisation’s leadership and representatives of the entire spectrum of Naga society.

Rev. Zhapu Terhuja, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council, said the Church would discuss the subject if the Naga Hoho formally intimated it about the plan. “We shall have to see (which way it goes),” he said recently.

Terhuja advocated a more cautious approach this time, citing the fact that one reconciliation process started by the Church had been rebuffed.

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