GUWAHATI: A day after the demise of SS Khaplang, who was the chief of banned insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN-K in Myanmar, the Centre on Saturday said it would appeal to the “Indian” NSCN-K insurgents to give up arms and join the mainstream.
Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said if the rebels abjured violence, they would be rehabilitated.
“Khaplang was the heart and soul of NSCN-K. Now that he is no more, the NSCN-K leadership will face a lot of difficulties. It has members from both India and Myanmar. We will appeal to the Indian NSCN-K rebels to return to the mainstream. I won’t talk about the Myanmar side of the rebels,” Rijiju told reporters in Guwahati.
“The NSCN-K is a Myanmar-based illegal organisation and we banned it in 2015. The ceasefire was also abrogated (unilaterally by NSCN-K in 2015). We faced a lot of difficulties from them in Nagaland, eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Their activities also had effects in Assam,” Rijiju added.
The NSCN-K is an outlawed organisation but Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu mourned Khaplang’s death on Saturday “on behalf of the government and the people of Nagaland”.
“It is tragic that such an important Naga leader like Khaplang has expired, considering the fact that the protracted Naga political problem is on the verge of being resolved, and the need for all different Naga political groups to come together to air our views and aspirations to the Government of India in one voice is absolutely imperative,” Shurhozelie said in a condolence message.
He said several efforts were made by the Nagaland government to convince the outfit to re-enter the peace process with the Centre to find an early solution to the political problem.
“…It was encouraging to learn that Khaplang had, a few months back, conveyed his willingness to have dialogues with the government provided the “issues of substance” were discussed. However, before things could be taken forward to its logical conclusion, it is calamitous that the Naga leader could not live long enough to see the proverbial Promised Land,” Shurhozelie said.
Meanwhile, it is more or less certain that NSCN-K vice-chairman Khango Konyak would take over as chairman but the issue of leadership in United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) could breach ties among outfits working under it. The UNLFW is a conglomerate of some insurgent groups of the Northeast. Khaplang was its chairman and now that he is dead, the military chief of United Liberation Front of Assam, Paresh Baruah, is a frontrunner for the post but the NSCN-K is unlikely to give way.