By CHIT MIN TUN
YANGON, February 1: The Myanmar Army has taken control of the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) in the Naga Self-Administered Zone of Sagaing Region without a shot being fired.
U Kyaw Wan Sein, a member of the NSCN-K’s Central Executive Committee, told The Irrawaddy that the group withdrew its troops and let the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) occupy its headquarters in order not to disrupt the peace process between it and the government.
He said a military column consisting of over 400 troops from six battalions led by the Hkamti District tactical commander under the Tatmadaw’s North-West Command took control of the NSCN-K’s headquarters in the village of Ta Ga in Nanyun Township on Tuesday.
“We let them in because the peace process between us and the Myanmar government will be damaged if there are gunshots and artillery fire. So, we let them in. We withdrew,” U Kyaw Wan Sein said.
Members of the NSCN-K’s Peace Committee and some unarmed members of the group remain at the headquarters, he said.
Executive U Kasi Rang of the Naga Self-administered Zone Leading Body said he did not know why the Myanmar Army sent troops to the NSCN-K headquarters.
“It can be said they have occupied it. There were no casualties or injuries,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The Tatmadaw declined to described the operation as an “occupation”. North-West Command spokesman Colonel Than Naing told The Irrawaddy: “We will let you know when the time is appropriate. I am not yet authorized to provide details. But it is not that we have occupied their headquarters.”
The NSCN-K signed a regional-level truce with the government in April 2012. It has no plan to relocate its headquarters, because it was established with the agreement of both sides, Kyaw Wan Sein said.
The Myanmar government has urged the NSCN-K to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), but the armed group has told The Irrawaddy it would not sign unless and until it reaches an agreement that can cover all the Naga people who live in northeast India and Myanmar.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland was founded in 1980 with the aim of establishing a sovereign Naga State. It split into two factions in 1988: the NSCN-K led by S. S. Khaplang, which is based in Myanmar, and the NSCN-IM led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muviah, which is based in India. S. S. Khaplang died in 2017.
According to Indian media, NSCN-IM entered into a ceasefire agreement in 1997 and has maintained it since then. The pact with NSCN-K was broken after the group attacked a military convoy in Manipur in June 2015, killing 18 soldiers.
On the Myanmar side, there have been no clashes between the Myanmar Army and the NSCN-K since 2000. However, last July the North-West Command warned then NSCN-K chairman Kham Ngaw not to operate outside its territory. The group was forced to give up one of its toll gates.
The NSCN-K toppled its chairman Kham Ngaw in a meeting the following month, and elected Yong Awng, the nephew of late leader Khaplang, to the chairman’s position.
(Courtesy: The Irrawaddy)