GUWAHATI: Call it women power. A self-styled “brigadier” of a major Naga insurgent group was rescued by a group of women from the clutches of Assam Rifles personnel in Manipur’s Ukhrul district.
The incident took place on Thursday night when “Brig” Thotmathing of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) was apprehended for illegal possession of arms and ammunition and being taken to an Assam Rifles camp by the troops.
At the time of his apprehension, the insurgent leader was travelling in a Bolero on Tolloi-Tadubi road. His driver and another person were accompanying him.
On getting news about the incident, some 500 women positioned themselves on the road, intercepted the 7-8 vehicle convoy of the country’s oldest paramilitary force and “rescued” the trio. The locals said the personnel did not put up any resistance when the large group of the women came, shouting “Naga war cry”.
The Tangkhul Shinao Long (TSL), a women’s organisation which rescued the rebel leader, said it was worried as security forces do not usually hand over people they apprehend to the police and instead take them away to Imphal Valley.
“When our people are taken to Imphal, we all know what happens. So, when we were informed that an NSCN-IM officer was apprehended in Hoomi village, we alerted our unit members across villages. Soon, hundreds of them positioned themselves on three roads which lead to Imphal. We decided that we will not allow the Assam Rifles to take the NSCN-IM leader to Imphal,” TSL president Veronica Zingkhai told this newspaper.
She said the Assam Rifles convoy was intercepted by over 500 women at Halang village.
“The women approached the personnel shouting Naga war cry. They didn’t tell them they would take the NSCN-IM officer away. They basically asked as to why he was being taken away. They (troops) didn’t say anything. They were surprised to see so many women. Soon, the women took custody of the NSCN-IM leader and left the place,” Zingkhai added.
The NSCN-IM spearheaded the Naga peace talks with the Centre for 22 years. Both sides are understood to have reached an agreement which has been “held up” as the Centre wants to consult all stakeholders in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
The three states, which have sizeable Naga populations, fear their interests could be hurt as a result of the Naga accord.