The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) has denied the Myanmar military’s accusation that it violated their bilateral ceasefire agreement and said it expects government troops to withdraw from its headquarters in the Naga Self-Administered Zone of Sagaing Region peacefully.
The group’s headquarters in Taga village were occupied by Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) troops last week, after the Tatmadaw began an operation against Indian rebel groups disguised as NSCN-K fighters in the area.
From Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 the Tatmadaw seized three outposts and two military training schools run by rebel groups fighting the Indian government in Assam and Manipur. It also seized small weapons and ammunition, according to press releases from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services on Feb. 3 and 6.
It accused the NSCN-K of allowing rebels against the Indian government to shelter in its areas and said it arrested six NSCN-K members and two Kathae rebels. It claimed to have “evidence that Kathae and Assam insurgents resided [in the area] and relevant documents on [their] links with [the] NSCN-K.” The military therefore said the NSCN-K violated the first article of the bilateral ceasefire agreement signed with the Sagaing Region government on April 9, 2012 and said necessary actions would be taken. Article 1 of the bilateral ceasefire agreement between the government and the NSCN-K stipulates that the Tatmadaw and NSCN-K were “to stop fighting” on the signed date.
U Kyaw Wan Sein, a member of the NSCN-K’s Central Executive Committee, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that, “There has been no violation. We have tried our best to maintain peace and the ceasefire agreement. We don’t want to see the destruction of the trust that we have taken so long to build up. So we don’t understand what the Tatmadaw means.”
He declined to comment on the activities of the Assam and Manipur (known locally as ethnic Kathae/Meitei) rebels, but would not deny that there are some groups trying to operate in the area, given its geographical proximity to India’s northeastern states.
He added that the Tatmadaw’s move had not resulted in any armed clashes, as the NSCN-K’s troops had retreated from the headquarters in order to avoid a gun battle. He said some members of the NSCN-K Peace Committee are still in Taga, but Tatmadaw troops have control of the area.
“We are trying not to engage as we value the ceasefire in order to maintain peace. We expect the [Tatmadaw] leaders will understand this and withdraw their troops,” he said.
Regarding news reports that the Tatmadaw planned to move NSCN-K personnel to a designated area after dismantling its headquarters, U Kyaw Wan Sein said there was no such arrangement and there had been no talks on the matter.
The Tatmadaw said it would take action to uphold its policy not to allow Myanmar territory to be used by any rebel group to attack a neighboring country (in this case India). According to a report issued by the Army chief’s office on Feb. 3, the operation followed reports in early December that Indian security forces had arrested nine members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Sangbijit at the border between India’s Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states. It said the fighters were returning from receiving military training in Myanmar.
The Tatmadaw said they also seized MPA (Manipur People’s Army) camps in Tunzang Township, Chin State in late October. The MPA—the armed wing of the United National Liberation Front—is one of eight groups banned by New Delhi after declaring independence for Manipur.
According to India’s Northeast Now news service, the Tatmadaw this week cracked down on camps of the Indian rebel group the United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I), killing one of its members.