The 16-year old ceasefire agreement between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland - IM is on the brink of a complete breakdown.
On Saturday, NSCN-IM cadres opened fire on thousands of peaceful demonstrators near the Gathasi designated camp area in Zunheboto district, killing one civilian and seriously injuring three others.
This firing incident has halted the ongoing peace talks between the Centre and the NSCN-IM.
Highly-placed sources told Rediff.com, “The Centre is in no mood to continue peace talks with the NSCN-IM leaders and the ceasefire will be abrogated anytime as the NSCN-IM leaders and cadres have openly violated the ground rules of the ceasefire agreement.”
The violence was triggered by an alleged strip search incident of two Naga girls on Christmas Eve at Zunheboto area.
Four NSCN-IM cadres allegedly misbehaved with the girls under the pretext of frisking them. The locals reacted sharply and demanded handing over of the culprits who were subsequently identified by the victims.
Significantly, the firing took place at a time when NSCN-IM top leaders -- general secretary Th. Muivah and chairman Issac Chishi Swu -- are camping in Delhi to resume peace talks with the Centre.
Highly-placed sources confirmed that since firing from the NSCN designated camp is a serious violation of the ceasefire rules, the Centre is all set to officially announce the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement any time in the next 24 hours.
“The Centre has got all its options open including officially making an announcement of the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement which was signed way back in 1997,” said a senior intelligence official.
The official further asserted that since the NSCN-IM top leaders are in Delhi, “The government would honour their presence and not put them either under house arrest or restrain their movement for the time being. But what happens subsequently is anybody’s guess”.
The official stated that the Centre and the state government would jointly take all possible steps to ensure the safety and security of the citizens. Security forces have already been put on high alert and the Assam Rifles have been asked to rush to the spot to take control of the violent situation.
Security forces are also keeping a close watch on all the designated camps including the Hebron headquarter of the NSCN-IM.
Experts believe that the long-awaited solution to the six-and-a-half decade old Naga political problem will again be relegated to the backburner due to large-scale extortions, fratricidal killings, selling of arms and ammunition in the grey market and finally the killing of Naga civilians.
Image used for representational purpose only