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ULFA inks pact: Militant body shared many ‘historic tales’ with Nagas

Nagaland News

‘Price for peace’ ~ the Naga case is much stronger than Assam’s

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 3: Militancy in Assam and ‘germinating’ the seeds of secessionism among a ‘most patriotic’ community was essentially due to political mistakes and New Delhi’s policy of coercion and selective use of carrot and stick policy.
In the late 1980s when the Mahanta Government was in power, Assam was rocked by ‘violence’, especially in tea gardens and Upper Assam under the leadership of the ULFA. The armed cadres also played neo-Robinhood, robbing and murdering “wrongdoers” and often tried to help the poor or prevent elements from alcoholism.
The organisation was founded in 1979 and the timing coincided with the Assam movement. The early ’80s saw New Delhi trying to impose its rule. Gyani Zail Singh as the Home Minister had famously said, “Indira’s will shall prevail”.
‘Militancy’ came late for Assamese youths but soon they established good working relations with Nagas and other tribal groups and estranged youths. Soon, they in conjunction with NSCN boys, were training ‘cadres’ in Tripura and Meghalaya ~ where insurgency came much later. The ULFA and Naga militants also established rapport with ‘agencies’ operating in Bangladesh and Pakistan and South East Asia became breeding grounds for common ‘business’ and arms deals.
ULFA leaders ran hotels in Bangladesh.
There were countries such as Myanmar and Bhutan in the neighbourhood. In 1990 when the then Chandrashekhar Government banned ULFA, the NSCN was also included in the list and President’s Rule was imposed in Assam. Operations Rhino I and II still bring them the memories of troublesome days. In 1999 during the Kargil conflict, ULFA exposed itself by their ‘appeal’ sympathetic to Pakistani intruders.
In fact, in many places ULFA cadres were also beaten up by the public.
The atmosphere was different in Nagaland or Meghalaya. The martyrdom of Naga youth Lieutenant Neikezhakuo (alias Neibu) Kengurusie of 2 Rajputana Rifles and two army officers from Meghalaya united all and sundry in favour of a strong and united India.
“Anti-Pakistan slogans were reported (in Naga hills) which affirmed the faith in Indian Nationalism.
“No compensation is adequate for Martyrdom but to the best of my memory the Government had allotted a petrol pump and substantial monetary grant”, says Lt Gen RN Kapur (Retd.), who served in Nagaland in the 1990s.
Lieutenant Neikezhakuo (alias Neibu) Kengurusie, was an Angami Naga from Nerhema village. He attained martyrdom on June 28, 1999 at Black Rock, Kargil at the tender age of 24.
The 2 Rajputana Rifles officer was later posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second highest gallantry award. During the Vajpayee regime, joint army crackdown by India and Bhutan left ULFA men and leaders shattered.
Finally, on December 29, 2023 as Home Minister Amit Shah sat next to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma presiding over the signing ceremony and later called it a ‘golden day’. Would the two BJP leaders ponder on whether such a ‘golden day’ could be expected even in neighbouring Nagaland? What the Naga militant leaders, NNPG, waiting for such a pact could be thinking?
The ‘price for peace’ ~ if there is something like that ~ the Naga case is much stronger than Assam’s essentially because the extortion menace has not been there in the Himanta-ruled State.
Well, in terms of number counting vis-à-vis 2024 battle, Assam sends 14 MPs and Nagaland’s share is only 1 lawmaker. But if the saffron party has walked away with ‘the crown and credit’ on December 29, the same ‘nationalist’ party and their dutiful regional friend NDPP are also obliged to do something more than they have been doing so far.
(Views are personal)