'Most wanted' militant extends support to Naga peace process
Niki Sumi, a most-wanted militant on the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) list, has extended support to the ongoing Naga peace process, in a clear indication that he is likely to join it.
Sumi is the president of a breakaway faction of the NSCN(K). Security sources confirmed that Sumi is back in India after his stay in Myanmar became untenable.
In a statement issued today, Sumi said his outfit is aware of “the sincere and genuine efforts” of the Government of India to find a lasting solution to the Naga issue.
“Therefore, NSCN/GPRN has resolved to strengthen and support the peace process at this crucial juncture,” the statement signed by Sumi said, adding that “our leaders have established contact with the officials of the GoI in this connection.”
The statement said the NSCN/GPRN has decided to revive the ceasefire with immediate effect by revoking the earlier decision of its unilateral abrogation in 2015. Sumi, in his statement, said the group expects “GoI to respond positively by honoring our decision as a confidence-building measure…”
Niki Sumi is one of the main accused in the killing of 18 Indian Army personnel on June 4, 2015. A convoy of 6 Dogra Regiment was ambushed by 20-25 militants in Chandel district. The NIA chargesheet in the incident notes that 15 soldiers were grievously injured.
The chargesheet said the attack was the result of a conspiracy hatched by NSCN(K), KYKL and KCP, all banned outfits.
NSCN(K), which operates out of camps in Sagaing division of Myanmar, has split twice since. The first split took place in 2018 after Khango Konyak, the then chief who originally hails from Mon in Nagaland, was “impeached” and Yung Aung took over the reins of the militant outfit. Aung is the nephew of SS Khaplang, who passed away in 2017.
While Khango Konyak and several of his supporters came back and joined the peace talks as part of the working committee of the NNPGs, Niki Sumi and several of his supporters stayed back with Yung Aung.
The group split again in July 2020 when Sumi, Nyamlang Konyak Naga, Starson Lamkang Naga were expelled by the Yung Aung faction. Their camp was later reportedly attacked by the Yung Aung faction, forcing them to escape. Nyamlang joined the NSCN(R) in September.
According to a highly placed source, Sumi had been camping on the border for over a month. “His position in Myanmar became untenable,” the source said. It is, however, unclear how many associates have returned with Sumi. The source claimed it is a negligible number.
Sumi, a Sema Naga from Zunheboto, was a gaonburah (headman) before he joined the militant ranks. According to sources, he ran an effective extortion network and even controlled some gold and jade mines in Myanmar.
In October, the Enforcement Directorate attached a house in Dimapur and Zunheboto, vehicles, money in bank accounts totalling ₹ 4.23 crore belonging to Shelly N Sumi, the wife of Niki Sumi and her family, in a terror funding case, according to a statement by the agency.
Naga groups are engaged in peace talks with the Government of India to resolve the vexed Naga peace issue. NSCN(I-M), the main Naga militant outfit, signed a framework agreement with the Government of India in 2015 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Six other outfits, collectively called the working committee of the NNPGs, signed an “agreed position” in 2017 with government interlocutor and now Nagaland Governor RN Ravi.
While the NNPGs are ready to sign the agreement, differences have cropped up between the GoI and the NSCN(I-M). No statement has been issued so far on Sumi's return and offer by either the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Home Affairs. A source in the Ceasefire Monitoring Group said they have no information on the possibility of a ceasefire with Sumi's outfit.