Separatist rebels from India’s Northeast have responded to the COVID-19 threat by laying out does and donts for their armed cadres in jungle bases of Myanmar.
Rebels of the NSCN (K), ULFA (I) and the Meitei groups have been asked by their leaders to practice “necessary hygiene” in the camps.
“Cleaning up living quarters, using disinfectants, staying away from each other as far as possible are some of the steps that our fighters have been asked to observe. And like disciplined soldiers, they are obeying the orders,” said a top NSCN (K) leader.
He spoke over phone to Northeast Now from an undisclosed location and was not willing to be named for fear of providing clues that may help interception.
The groups in the Taga region of Myanmar’s Sagaing Province are observing the “necessary hygiene” , the rebel leader said.
“Movement of our units has been minimized. We have asked our fighters to avoid going to markets because they could bring back infection. We are trying to survive on stocked supplies for the next few days after which we will have to restock,” the rebel leader said.
Back in Nagaland, the NSCN (I-M) has cancelled all its programmes. A spokesman of the group said that cancellation or postponement of the group’s programmes was to “stand in solidarity with the declaration of the COVID-19 as a pandemic by the WHO.”
“We have not celebrated our Republic Day and postpone our budget session indefinitely,” he said while speaking from Hebron, the NSCN (IM) headquarters near Nagaland’s Dimapur town.
March 21 is the NSCN (IM)’s Republic Day. The group also holds its budget exercise during the last week of March to finalise its “tax” structure and expenditure for the next financial year.
All factions of NSCN impose a range of ‘taxes’ such as the annual house tax and periodic taxes on the income of salaried people, professionals and traders.
Taxes are also collected from transporters ferrying goods across Nagaland, adjoining Manipur and other areas where the group operates.
The other events postponed by the outfit include the silver jubilee celebration of the Naga Freedom Fighters Widows’ Welfare Federation.
Meetings of all kinds have been cancelled too.