NEW DELHI: In a major success for the Indian Army, Assam Rifles, and the Myanmar Army, a large number of the cadre of the dissident NSCN Khaplang-Yung Aung (K-YA) have surrendered.
It is being seen as a result of the proactive military diplomacy with General MM Naravane involved with it since he was the chief of Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command before taking charge as the Army chief.
Army sources said: “Starson Lamkang, a Manipuri Naga from Lamkang tribe and an ex-leader of NSCN Khaplang-Yung Aung (K-YA) surrendered on 25 Dec 2020 along with 52 other cadres.”
NSCN (K-YA) is the only Naga Faction that has not observed a ceasefire with the security forces and is not part of the ongoing peace Talks. NSCN (K), a major Naga Insurgent Group with Myanmar and Indian cadres led by Khaplang abrogated the ceasefire with GoI in 2015.
A framework agreement was signed in 2015 between the Centre and the Isak-Muivah (I-M) faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, or the NSCN (I-M).
“The group was involved in a series of violent incidents, extortion, and recruitment in the North East and became the focus of operations by both the Indian Army and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army), with extensive area domination, selective intelligence-based targeting of the leadership and overground workers' support network, forcing them to shift bases frequently," said an Army officer.
Talking about the on-ground modus operandi, the officer said, “Relentless domination of the India-Myanmar Border and the hinterland areas severely restricted the operating space of the insurgents. Their troubles were compounded with the conduct of coordinated operations with Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) in 2019 and 2020.” These resulted in clearing out of the NSCN (K) GHQ at Taga and severe restrictions on the camps opposite Nagaland and Southern Arunachal Pradesh. This resulted in the apprehension/ surrender of a large number of insurgents and the signing of the Memorandum of Settlement by NDFB groups in January 2020.
Communication channels were kept open with tribal groups and Civil Society Organisations as outreach to the Indian origin leaders and cadres of the NSCN (K-YA) to bring them into the folds of the peace process. A dynamic counter-infiltration and counter-terror grid were kept active under the Inspector General of Assam Rifles (North) at Kohima.
The COVID restrictions on cross border movement on India-Myanmar Border by the Assam Rifles hit the logistics of the insurgent groups operating in Myanmar. Operational and logistical challenges brought to bear on the group by forces forced the leadership to rethink their future course.
Due to difficulties, the group again split in 2020 with Nyemlang Konyak, Niki Sumi, and Starson with their cadres breaking away from Yung Aung in July 2020. Konyak came overground in September 2020 and joined the NSCN (R). Coordinated operations with Tatmadaw were launched in October 2020 specifically targeting the Niki Sumi group which now had shifted their base opposite Phek dist in Nagaland.
This pressure resulted in Niki Sumi, Starson, and a large number of their cadres coming overground in December 2020 expressing willingness to rejoin the peace process.
The surrender was in three phases. On 27 September, Nyemlang Konyak joined NSCN (R) as a part of NNPGs. Nikki Sumi then surrendered on December 20 with two unarmed individuals. Finally, on December 25, Starson Lamkang along with 52 other cadres surrendered in the Phek district of Nagaland.
The surrender has been brought about by military diplomacy which saw the chief of the Army Staff Gen MM Naravane proceeding on a visit to Myanmar along with the Foreign Secretary. The visit and subsequent discussions with the Myanmar Army and other officials paid a rich dividend.
Army Chief General Naravane had paid a three-day visit to Dimapur from November 23 to review the security situation in the Northeast and was briefed on the progress of the ongoing Naga Peace talks.
The joint military-diplomatic efforts have led to the breakup of NSCN K-YA, a group that has been previously involved in the ambush of 6 DOGRA in Manipur in 2015.
These three leaders were under constant pressure by both the Indian Army and the Myanmar Army apart from frequent attempts of NSCN K-YA to target them which forced them to join the peace process.
The coming overground of these prominent leaders and cadres would strengthen the ongoing peace process and creates conditions for an amicable and widely acceptable solution. Many of the leaders are wanted in previous cases by the NIA for which the Centre would take a measured call.