Kohima: At a time when the crucial Centre-NSCN-IM talks were in progress to break the deadlock in the decade-long Naga peace talks, one of the prime constituents of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) — NSCN (Unification) — recruited over one thousand members during the month of October this year.
After the first joint meeting of three NSCN groups — NSCN (K), NSCN (R) and NSCN (U) — with the Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG)/ Ceasefire Supervisory Board (CFSB), held at its office in Kohima on Wednesday, the NSCN groups have reacted to the allegations about the recruitment of new cadres.
Speaking with EastMojo soon after the ceasefire meeting, Hotoi Awomi, NSCN (U) secretary CFSB, said, “Yes, of course, recruitments are going on. But we have not forced anybody to join our group nor have we forced anybody to go for training.”
He then said that in regard to the recruitment of cadres, the Ceasefire Ground Rules (CFGR) specifically mentions: “NSCN will refrain from forcible recruitment of armed cadres. This is mentioned in the Ceasefire Ground Rules under Clause 12,” he said.
“We are not breaking the laid ceasefire rules because we have not forced anybody to go for training,” he said, expressing that the fight is for the “Nagas in general”.
He then added: “But after the solution, there might be some problems for those cadres who have just recently joined our government because we do not know what the provision will be for these cadres. For those cadres, who have worked for 40-50 years and for those who have just recently joined, we cannot take the same yardstick. That is upon the government of India.”
When queried about the speculations that over 200 cadres are being recruited, Awomi said, “Thousands of Nagas are joining. They are coming for recruitment. Even as we are facing problem (with the huge recruitment)…we cannot be selfish at this juncture because we are working for the Nagas. We are not working for our own benefit.”
Awomi further clarified saying, “We are not denying that thousands of Nagas are joining our force. They are undergoing training. I am not denying that it is a false allegation or a social media update. I even admitted in the meeting that more than thousands are joining our training centre and they are coming for recruitment.”
Unemployment, according to Awomi, is one of the reasons why many Nagas are joining the groups.
“That is also another venture for them. Unemployment problem has reached to such an extent that some of the educated Nagas are even willing to join other groups across the border. So, instead of sending them across the border and creating unwanted situation in the near future, I think it is better for each and every Naga that they join here and be part of the solution.”
Awomi then revealed that after October 31, over 5,000 of interested candidates were sent back because there was “no space to accommodate”. He also added that before the October 31 deadline, over “thousands were recruited voluntarily” and out of their wilfulness. “We did not recruit anybody forcefully,” he said.
When asked about the NSCN (IM) questioning the recruitment of 80 Kukis at Khehoi Camp, he said, “We are not discriminating any tribe. Those who are willing to join, we cannot send them back. If they are willing to join, we can’t deny their rights since we are working for the Nagas in general.”
Meanwhile, the NSCN (R) has denied allegations and said that the group has no new recruits. NSCN (R) deputy kilonser and MIP Amento V Chishi said, “Any faction will not recruit forcefully and if voluntarily, it is not a ceasefire violation. With its collective leadership in Delhi for negotiations, no recruitment has been made after October 31.”
Muzivoyi Puro, deputy kilonser and member CFSB, said that these allegations are an attempt to “derail the peace process”. S Amento Chishi, supervisor CFSB of NSCN (R) said that although refresher courses are being held, there is no new recruitment.
Also, NSCN K (Khango) Michael Yetho, secretary CFSB, denied allegations that there is no forced recruitment of cadres but is undergoing a “phasing out” period as 70% of its cadres have “grown old”.