Kohima, Dec. 16: Suspected militants of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) shot dead the “education minister” of the Naga National Council’s Adinno faction, Palang Khiamniungan, here today.
The 45-year-old leader was shot in the back of his head from point-blank range at Phoolbari around 10 am. He died on the spot.
The area was teeming with people when the incident took place as people were out shopping for Christmas. As the gunshot rang out, everyone rushed indoors and security forces took up position.
This is one of the biggest incidents of factional fights in Nagaland in recent times and the second in which suspected NSCN (I-M) militants have killed a senior functionary of the NNC (Adinno). Mar Jamir, also a kilonser (minister), was shot dead at PR Hill here on June 1 last year.
There has been a marked increase in factional clashes in the state this year. According to a state home department report, there have been 90 factional clashes so far.
The fiercest factional fights have been between the two groups of the NSCN — Isak-Muivah and Khaplang.
Though the NNC (Adinno) denies any collaboration with the Khaplang group, it is often critical of the ongoing Naga peace process between New Delhi and the NSCN (I-M).
The NNC was founded by A.Z. Phizo, the torchbearer of the Naga “freedom movement”. The outfit is still considered a power centre in the troubled state. It is now divided into three factions — the NNC (Adinno), led by Phizo’s daughter, NNC (Panger) and NNC (Singnya).
The Singnya group of the NNC is operating with the Khaplang group against the NSCN (I-M) for turf control. S. Singnya was president of the Adinno group’s Federal Government of Nagaland till he was dropped from the post. He later formed his own faction.
Today’s killing comes against the backdrop of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council claiming that its failed meeting with the Khaplang group in Mon on December 5 was not at the behest of the NSCN (I-M).
Rev. Kari Longchar, director of the NBCC Peace Mission, said the team wanted to meet the outfit’s leaders as part of its attempt to the renew the process of “honest conversation” among Naga people on what had gone wrong with the society. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss social reconciliation and healing so that the deteriorating crisis does not end in disaster, he added.
The Baptist church said it would continue to work for reconciliation among Naga warring groups with impartiality and would denounce any form of violence in society.