Sanjha Morcha

Centre may set up a force to induct Naga insurgent group’s armed cadre

NEWDELHI: The Union home ministry and the Issak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) have discussed creating a special auxiliary regiment, or an armed police force on the lines of the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) to induct the armed cadres of the Naga insurgent group, a senior home ministry official has said.

HT FILE■ The proposal is part of the Centre’s deliberations with the NSCN­IM with whom a Framework Agreement was signed in 2015.The proposal is part of the Centre’s deliberations with the NSCN-IM with which a Framework Agreement had been signed in 2015 to find a permanent solution to the Naga conflict.

The government has so far not revealed the contents of the Framework Agreement but a high ranking official of the ministry of home affairs (MHA), who is part of the peace process with the Naga group, said the Centre and the NSCN-IM have discussed recommending that “heavily armed cadres of the insurgent group” form a new unit that will operate under the government’s watch.

“Our government is dedicated to achieving a peaceful solution to the Naga issue and channeling the armed cadres to form such a force under the government of India will ensure peace and prosperity for the state,” the ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

The official added that details such as the time frame of establishing the regiment, recruitment for the top brass of the said regiment or whether or not the insurgent group will give up its weapons are yet to be worked out.

Under the current arrangement, which came about after the government signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN-IM in 1997, cadres of the insurgent group remain armed when they are in their camps located in Nagaland, the official added.

Former home secretary GK Pillai said the decision to induct NSCN-IM cadres must be a part of the final step of rehabilitation package for the insurgents.

“In the past, too, we had raised two BSF battalions comprising surrendered Naga militants. Same has been done in left-wing affected areas and in Kashmir. There must be between 4,000-5,000 armed NSCN-IM cadres and the government ideally should provide an income source as part of the peace deal to keep them away returning to militant fold,” Pillai said.

The revelation comes after tension over the government’s decision to hold assembly elections in Nagaland before the signing of the Naga peace accord subsided last week with the BJP forming an alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). This was after civil rights groups and political parties in the state, including the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), announced they would not contest the assembly polls scheduled for February 27 until the Naga political problem was resolved. The NSCN-IM had extended its support for boycotting elections.

The senior home ministry official also said the government used both “hot and cold manoeuvres” to navigate the politics revolving around the election boycott call, adding that Union home minister Rajnath Singh, his deputy Kiren Rijiju and Naga interlocutor RN Ravi played key roles.

“The NSCN-IM recently issued statement that they will not use violence to enforce election boycott call.

“Compare the statement with the day when all political parties in Nagaland decided to boycott elections when filing of nominations too seemed to be a distant possibility.

“We have crossed the first hurdle, nominations have been filed. Now let’s have faith in Naga people for turning up to vote,” the official said.