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LOOKEAST REPORT |
THE Myanmar Army has taken control of the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland–Khaplang (NSCN–K) in the Naga Self–Administered Zone of Sagaing Region without any clash between soldiers and rebels.
U Kyaw Wan Sein, a member of the NSCN(K)s Central Executive Committee, told Burmese media that the group withdrew its fighters and allowed the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) occupy its headquarters to avoid disrupting the peace process with the government.
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Sein said a military column consisting of more than 400 troops led by the Hkamti District tactical commander under the Tatmadaw’s North–West Command took control of the NSCN(K)s headquarters in the village of Ta Ga in Nanyun Township on Tuesday.
“We let them in because the peace process between us and the Myanmar government will be damaged if there are gunshots and artillery fire. So, we let them in. We withdrew,” U Kyaw Wan Sein said.
Members of the NSCN(K)s Peace Committee and some unarmed members of the group remain at the headquarters, he said.
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Executive U Kasi Rang of the Naga Self–administered Zone Leading Body said he could not fathom why the Myanmar Army sent troops to the NSCN(K) headquarters.
“It can be said they have occupied it. There were no casualties or injuries,” he told the Burmese media.
The Tatmadaw declined to describe the operation as an “occupation”. North–West Command spokesman Colonel than Naing told media persons: “We will let you know when the time is appropriate. I am not yet authorised to provide details.”
We let them in because the peace process between us and the Myanmar government will be damaged if there are gunshots and artillery fire. So, we let them in. We withdrew. Members of the NSCN(K)s Peace Committee and some unarmed members of the group remain at the headquarters
The NSCN(K) signed a regional–level truce with the Myanmar government in April 2012. It has no plan to relocate its headquarters, because it was established with mutual agreement, Kyaw Wan Sein said.
The Myanmar government has urged the NSCN(K) to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), but the armed group made it cleat it would not sign unless and until it reaches an agreement that can cover all the Naga people who live in northeast India and Myanmar.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland was founded in 1980 with the aim of establishing a sovereign Naga State.
It split into two factions in 1988: the NSCN(K) led by SS Khaplang, which is based in Myanmar, and the NSCN(IM) led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, which is based in India. SS Khaplang died in 2017.
NSCN(IM) entered into a ceasefire agreement in 1997 and has maintained it since then. The pact with NSCN(K) was broken after the group attacked a military convoy in Manipur in June 2015, killing 18 soldiers.
On the Myanmar side, there have been no clashes between the Myanmar Army and the NSCN(K) since 2000.
However, last July the North–West Command warned then NSCN(K) chairman Kham Ngaw not to operate outside its territory. The group was forced to give up one of its toll gates.
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The NSCN(K) toppled its chairman Khango Konyak in a meeting the following month, and elected Yung Awng, the nephew of late leader Khaplang, to the chairman’s position.
But Khango has neither joined any other Naga rebel faction nor has he been co–opted into the peace process.
It is also not yet clear whether the Tatmadaw has or intends to demolish camps of other non–Naga rebel group in the Ta Ga region.
Tatmadaw’ western command chief Maj Gen. Phone Myat assured Indian commanders recently that. his force would not allow Burmese soil to be used for anti–Indian activities. ■