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Assam Rifles officer, three militants killed in Nagaland encounter

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-06-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi: An Assam Rifles officer and at least three militants from the rebel National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) were killed in an exchange of fire in Nagaland’s Mon district on Wednesday.

The gunfight between security forces and a joint group of ULFA & NSCN-K insurgents started late on Tuesday night, security forces said, a senior security officer confirmed, requesting anonymity.

Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has sounded a grim warning about the situation in the Northeast. With 43 insurgent groups active in the region, a CRPF report says the threat of destabilization is significant because of easy availability of weapons and ease of movement across the border with Myanmar.

The report, seen by Mint, points to “polarizing identity politics and development issues in the region” as the main factors fomenting insurgency in the region. However, it also says that the signing of the peace accord between the Centre and the main insurgent group, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), in August 2015 has led the NSCN (K) to try and hit back.

“The historic accord caused the rival Khaplang faction to abrogate its ceasefire agreement with the government and revert to violence against security forces. The faction is also spearheading a movement to bring all insurgent formations in the region onto a unified platform,” the report states.

“Crucially, first responders, the state police forces as well as most central security forces and the intelligence apparatus remain ill-equipped and wanting. The emphasis on technological capabilities, intelligence and specialized forces requires special attention to address the north east insurgency,” the report says.

It raises concerns about the movement of people across 1,643-km border with Myanmar, because of the agreement which allows people from Myanmar to move up to 16 km inside Indian territory for trade purposes.

In Assam, the coming together of the NSCN(K) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) operating alongside, led to 33 civilian deaths in 2016, according to home ministry statistics.

The situation is no different -- according to the report -- in Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura. In Manipur the NSCN(K) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have gone a step ahead and carried out IED (Improvised Explosive Device) explosions.

“These outfits are directing their cadres to carry out extortion bids and exploit tea gardeners and businessmen. They target security forces and local police to procure arms and ammunition and are recruiting the youth to strengthen their cadre. They have also targeted BJP leaders during the assembly elections in Manipur,” said an intelligence official, on condition of anonymity.

However, the home ministry is confident of its security apparatus along the border.

“The Centre has a committee on effective policing along the India-Myanmar border in the Home Ministry with the mandate to conduct an in-depth study of the existing security infrastructure, vulnerability to security threat and suggest suitable measures for framing an effective policy to strengthen border policing,” said a senior home ministry official, requesting anonymity.

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