Guwahati, February 1, 2019:
The Myanmar Army (officially known as ‘Tatmadaw’) has taken control of the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, Khaplang (NSCN-K) faction in the Naga self-administered zone of Sagaing region in Myanmar today. Not a single shot was fired, as the NSCN-K withdrew its troops in order not to disrupt the peace process with the Myanmar Government.
According to U Kyaw Wan Sein, a member of the NSCN-K’s Central Executive Committee, a military column consisting of over 400 troops from six battalions 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.
According to sources, members of the NSCN-K’s ‘Peace Committee’ and some unarmed members of the group remain at the headquarters.
Executive U Kasi Rang of the Naga Self-administered Zone Leading Body said he did not know 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 said.
The Tatmadaw has declined to describe the operation as an “occupation”. North-West Command spokesman Colonel Than Naing said: “We will let you know when the time is appropriate. I am not yet authorized to provide details. But it is not that we have occupied their headquarters.”
The NSCN-K signed a regional-level truce with the Government of Myanmar in April 2012. The Myanmar government has urged the NSCN-K to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), but the armed outfit has declared that 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.
It is to be mentioned that 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 S. S. Khaplang, which is based in Myanmar, and the NSCN-IM led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muviah, which is based in India. S. S. Khaplang died in 2017.
According to media, 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, the North-West Command warned then NSCN-K Chairman Kham Ngaw not to operate outside its territory in July, 2018 and subsequently, the group was forced to give up one of its toll gates. The NSCN-K toppled its Chairman Kham Ngaw in a meeting the following month, and elected Yong Awng, the nephew of late leader Khaplang, to the chairman’s position.