Members of the 3 NSCN groups, top security officials along with CFMG/CFSB chairman Lt Gen (Retd) Shokin Chauhan after the joint coordination meeting on Wednesday Credit: EastMojo image

Kohima: In a first, three NSCN groups — NSCN (Khango), NSCN (Reformation) and NSCN (Unification) — jointly attended a ceasefire meeting at the Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG)/ Ceasefire Supervisory Board (CFSB) office in Kohima, Nagaland on Wednesday.

The meeting was also attended by top officials of security forces and state administration including IGAR (North), Nagaland Commissioner, IG (INT) and DIG. In addition to this, the ceasefire body will be having a ceasefire review meeting with the NSCN (IM) on Thursday.

It may be noted that at other times, the meetings between the CFMG/CFSB and the NSCN groups are held at separate timings although it is often held in a day.

Speaking with EastMojo, Michael Yeptho of NSCN K (Khango), secretary CFSB, said that in the meeting which lasted for over an hour, the groups requested the CFSB to reconsider the closing down of unauthorised messes. Yeptho said that since “solution is at hand”, if all of its cadres are moved back, it will not be possible to accommodate all of its cadres at the designated camps.

Kaino Chishi, PRO to Ato Kilonser NSCN K (Khango), added that in the meeting, the groups have raised the concern of National Security Agency (NSA) booking its cadres, where it requested the intervention of the CFSB. Chishi added that the CFSB has assured to sensitise the security forces to be more cautious in this regard.

NSCN (R) deputy kilonser and MIP Amento V Chishi told EastMojo that the CFSB, in the meeting, questioned as to why the cadre list of the NSCN groups were not submitted to the ministry of home affairs (MHA). Chishi said that although the groups were “pressurised” to submit the list, all groups were of the “same view” that until the MHA gives a “green signal” detailing all contents in “black and white”, it will not submit the cadres list, to which the CFSB seems to have “understood”.

In conversation with EastMojo after the meeting, NSCN (U) secretary CFSB Hotoi Awomi said that the idea to hold the joint meeting with the other two groups was proposed to the CFMG chairman in the last ceasefire meeting “since the NNPGs have agreed in principle to go with the solution”. Awomi then termed the whole meeting as “fruitful”.

Illegal taxation or royalty taxation:

During the quick conversation with NSCN K (Khango) representatives, the group expressed that what the Indian authorities term as “illegal taxation” is the “legitimate right taxation” for the NSCN groups. One member of this group said “until a solution is inked, they [Indian authorities] cannot ask us to stop”. Explaining further as to why such tax is levied, he appealed the Nagas to be “patient enough for few more months”.

Terming it as is “royalty taxation”, one NSCN (R) member said “Nagas should understand that we are fighting for the Nagas”. He then clarified saying that besides it, it only takes voluntary donations from the people. Another member, when asked if the group monitors illegal taxations, said that there are several cadres who were “warned, suspended and terminated” for their involvement in extortions. He added that the Collective Leadership of the group “strongly emphasises” on “zero tolerance” when it comes to illegal taxation or harassment of the public by its cadres. It was also informed that the discussion on taxation is the “bond of contention in every review meeting” held with the ceasefire body.

Role of the ‘small yet powerful office’

The Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG)/ Ceasefire Supervisory Board (CFSB) is currently headed by its chairman Lt Gen (Rtd) Shokin Chauhan and is the nodal office that oversees the Ceasefire Ground Rules (CFGR) between the NSCN groups and the Government of India. Under the ground rules, the groups cease to carry out ambush, raid, attack, damage, to property and civilians, refrain from forcible recruitment of cadres, refrain from extending support to other militant groups and refrain from acquiring any additional equipment.

Michael Yeptho of NSCN K (Khango), secretary CFSB, lauded the CFSB office saying that the effort made by the office is “very commendable” and “very reachable”. Expressing that since the groups are unable to directly speak to the Government of India (GoI), the CFMG/CFSB has been assisting and further clarifying their doubts on various occasions. He goes on to say that the office has provided as a platform through which their voices are heard by the GoI. Yeptho further suggested that the office of the CFMG/CFSB must continue till a final solution is achieved.

Kaino Chishi, PRO to Ato Kilonser NSCN K (Khango), said it is “very comfortable working” with the CFSB and expressed that there is no need to create a new branch suggesting that the office must continue during the entire transition period, else every process will have to start “from scratch” again.

In a separate conversation, NSCN (U) secretary CFSB Hoito Awomi said: “It is through the CFMG/CFSB that the Nagas have come this far. It was through the initiative of the ceasefire that the Nagas got in touch with the Government of India and it is also through the initiative of the office of the chairman CFMG that the talks started. It is the combined effort of all the groups…It is all because of the CFSB that that we at this [peaceful] situation. It took the initial route and it is the mediating part and parcel of the body between Government of India and NSCN.”

Meanwhile, NSCN (R) Deputy Kilonser and member CFSB, Muzivoyi Puro, said he disappointed to learn that the present CFSB tenure will be over by February 2020. Puro said that since the Naga peace talks are at a nearing end, the CFSB office must continue till the issue is resolved. NSCN K (Khango) CFSB Supervisor, Amento Chishi, added, “We want to work with people who understand the Nagas and our problems”.

Solution as gift for Hornbill or Christmas?

While the union ministry on Tuesday has once sounded that there has been considerable progress in the Naga peace talks and that all stakeholders, including the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be duly consulted before any settlement is arrived, there are hopes that an agreement/accord will be inked by December.

An NSCN (R) representative expressed that the people must also try to understand the Government of India [in the delay] as it is not only dealing with one particular group in regard to the Naga solution. While NSCN K (Khango) member said that an outcome is expected by this year, although the implementation process could take longer, NSCN (U) member hinted that an agreement/accord could be signed before Christmas.

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