Demilitarize Populated Areas

With increasing factional clashes and an overt turf war spreading from the rural hinterlands to public inhabited areas, the much hyped and talked about Ceasefire Ground Rules that the Government of India has signed with the two NSCNs has become a mockery with zero visibility of authority to monitor and implement it. There could be a hundred and one excuses, some of them reasonable, but the fact remains that no one seems to be in control of the situation, not the State government or security forces and definitely not the Ceasefire Monitoring Group/Supervisory Board. To add to this, the complete silence on the part of Delhi has not helped. 

As the recent armed stand-off in Zunheboto town between the NSCN factions, which had virtually transformed civilian populated areas into a battle field, it only goes to show the complete lawlessness of the situation and how even the State machinery remains helpless to intervene. The Zunheboto crisis has also brought into sharp focus the differences among political parties over the ‘meaning’ of the situation brought about by such factional violence. This is quite unfortunate because at the end of the day whether it is ‘breakdown of law and order’ or ‘complications arising out of political dimensions’, the security of civilians cannot be compromised no matter what the circumstances are. Rather than polarize on the issue, political parties would have better served public interest if they had given practical suggestions to resolve the problem rather than politicizing factional violence. 

To avoid such Zunheboto like situations even in the future, the crux of the problem has to established first and appropriate measures taken. In this case, the problem arises because of militarization of civilian areas. If both NSCN factions desire to resolve their differences militarily, they should take their battle out of public inhabited areas. Both factions should realize the futility of the so called ‘turf war’ because the Naga public does not understand the language of violence. In the same vein, if both agree to resolve their differences politically in a democratic manner through a dialogue process, the Naga public will be only too happy to support such a move. Both NSCNs should be reminded that they do not have public support when it comes to killings and violence.

The other issue that needs to be brought out into public discourse is on whether the Government of India’s representatives at the CFMG/CFSB led by the Chairman should be allowed to continue in the chair when it is clearly evident that the present mechanism to monitor the ceasefire has become virtually defunct. If at all Lt.-General (Retd) Ramesh Kulkarni and his team are indeed helpless when it comes to fire-fighting exercise, at least the honourable Chairman must now take precautionary steps to ensure that armed cadres are moved back into their respected designated camps and in the process help in demilitarization of public inhabited areas so that factional war can be resorted in the jungles or underground where it truly belongs.