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NSCN-K's self-styled brigadier killed by rival faction

March 18, 2011 16:42 IST
Chipu Menon, senior leader of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Khaplang faction, a self-styled brigadier in the outfit, was assassinated by suspected cadres of the rival NSCN-IM group at Mon in Nagaland on Thursday night, intelligence sources in New Delhi said.

With this killing, the NSCN-IM) appears to have dealt a major blow to the rival K group in the ongoing factional fight between the two sides playing out for the past three months in the twin districts of Tirap and Changlang in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh bordering Myanmar and the Mon district of Nagaland.

At least 30 cadres of the NSCN-IM and half a dozen of the NSCN-K have been killed in factional fight spread on either side of the India-Myanmar border since December 2010. The clashes have occurred primarily to gain control of the two strategically located districts that serve as a transit route for north-eastern militants taking shelter in largely unadministered areas of Myanmar.

In fact, alarmed by the rising bloodshed in the Tirap-Changlang districts, the Cabinet Committee on Security had directed the army to launch an operation against both the factions of NSCN.

Chipu Menon (Chungwang) was the second son of an IAS officer, the late K D Menon, who married a local tribal lady from the Eastern Arunachal radesh area. Chipu Menon's uncle (the younger brother of his mother) is TL Rajkumar, a prominent politician in Arunachal Pradesh. Rajkumar has been a minister and even speaker of the  Arunachal Pradesh state assembly in his long political career.

Chipu Menon-Khunwang, who used to live in Khonsa, joined the NSCN-K some time in 1995 and gradually worked his way up to project himself as leader of the area. Menon-Khunwang was earlier engaged in the timber business with his uncle, TL Rajkumar, before he took to the gun. He was also reportedly the 'military and political supervisor' of the self-proclaimed Union Territory-3 (essentially the twin districts of Tirap-Changlang), lording over an extensive extortion and protection racket. Extortion in the north-east in general and these two districts is considered a lucrative business.

Security forces are now bracing for an upsurge in violence in the two districts in the wake of this high-profile killing.

RS Chauhan in New Delhi