New Delhi: The Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) abrogated the ceasefire deal with the Indian government under the influence of ULFA leader Paresh Baruah, according to two former leaders of the NSCN-K.
Wangtin Naga and P Tikhak, leaders of a new organisation called NSCN (Reformation), said that it was at United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) leader Baruah's instance that NSCN-K leader SS Khaplang expelled them from the organisation as kilonsers (ministers) and abrogated the ceasefire deal.
In an interview with the Northeast Sun magazine, Naga and Tikhak said that they were shocked to learn of their expulsion on March 27, the same day that they were attending the ceasefire meeting with the Indian government at Chumukedima in Nagaland.
“It was a real shock to us. As usual we had to attend the ceasefire meeting on March 27 which was fixed about 20 days ago. You know we keep on having these ceasefire review meetings after a gap of every two or three months. So to attend the meeting on March 27, I started from Mon (in Nagaland) on March 26 with a plan to spend the night at Jorhat (in Assam),” Wangtin said.
“Soon after crossing the Nagaland-Assam border gate I received a phone call from an Army officer on my mobile who informed me that our boys have carried out a shootout in Kohima and a bomb blast in Wokha. It really shocked me and I told the officer that I do not know. That Army officer did not believe me and accused me by saying, 'Your boys have done it. How can you say that you don’t know?'”
He said that he was intercepted on the way at a place called Sonari and was kept in Army custody for around six hours before being released at the intervention of the Indian Home Ministry.
The next day, March 27, he said he was driving down to Dimapur for the meeting when he came to know that the NSCN-K had fired at one captain of the Assam Rifles on the orders of Niki Sema, a “lieutenant general” under Khaplang “to complicate the situation more”.
According to Wangtin, when he and Tikhak reached Chumukedima, everybody present there from the Indian side were initially not willing to listen to them or conduct the meeting because they said that the ceasefire had already broken down.
“Tikhak and myself, we tried to defend Khaplang and told them that Khaplang might not have committed these acts on the security forces, that he might not have authorised anybody to fire upon Indian security forces. I am the ceasefire convenor and Tikhak being the member of the committee, we would have been the first ones to be informed if Khaplang had wished to break the ceasefire,” he said.
But on May 28, he said, he and Tikhak were shocked to see a statement by Khaplang in all the local newspapers that the ceasefire was officially abrogated and the two of them have been expelled from the NSCN-K for attending the ceasefire meeting.
“Ceasefire meeting is an usual exercise for us but Khaplang never informed us about this situation. If Khaplang had any plan to break the ceasefire he should have consulted his Cabinet kilonsers and workers and accordingly he should have informed me and Tikhak,” Wangtin, who along with Tikhak, was in New Delhi for talks with the Indian authorities said, adding that “Khaplang must have been the victim of manipulation by somebody”.
Asked how he viewed his and Wangtin's expulsion, Tikhak said that “some people, particularly like Paresh Barua” might be behind this.
According to Tikhak, Barua, after being expelled from Bangladesh, Barua came to Myanmar and took refuge with Khaplang.
“Paresh with his men came to Myanmar and took refuge with Khaplang. Since then they started misguiding Khaplang. We stood for peace and did not support ULFA’s actions like killing innocent school children in Dhemaji and bomb blasts in the markets where innocent people were killed. We have always been opposed to them on such actions,” Tikhak said.
When pointed out that there was a theory doing the rounds that under Chinese influence, Barua was instrumental in convincing Khaplang to abrogate the ceasefire with India, Tikhak said: “Even in the killings of adivasis in Bodo areas by the Bodo group (National Democratic Front of Bodoloand-Songbijit), ULFA played a role. Probably it routed through other agency from other country, particularly the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan). That is what we know and have been told. Now Chinese involvement, we cannot rule out. But at the same time we can’t prove it. But to be precise, we cannot rule out their (Chinese) involvement.”
Wangtin said that he 75 percent did not agree with Khaplang and stood for the ceasefire. “The day Khaplang expelled me and Tikhak, we decided to continue the ceasefire. Our expulsion by Khaplang is nothing but is as (sic) cutting his own legs.”