File photo of NSCN-IM cadres. image - Caisii Mao

The NSCN (IM) has vacated its camp in Sihai village, about 5 km from Khamasom near the Indo-Myanmar border in Ukhrul district of Manipur, defence PRO Col C. Konwer said in a release on Wednesday.

The Assam Rifles and the NSCN (IM) were locked in a bitter standoff for five days till Tuesday over location of the camp with both sides stationing their reinforcement in the area.

The locals of the area took out a procession on Tuesday, seeking de-escalation of any form of disturbance and peace.

Also read: NSCN(IM) violating ceasefire ground rules in Manipur: Assam Rifles

The defence release said it was ensured that the NSCN (IM) vacates its camp in conformity with the Ceasefire Ground Rules by using the “good offices” of Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) chairman and civil society organisations.

The release said the security forces had been extremely careful not to escalate the situation “in spite of provocation from NSCN (IM)” and approached the CFMG chairman though he has no “mandate” beyond Nagaland, maintaining the momentum in negotiations achieved after signing of the Framework Agreement with the NSCN (IM).

Also read: NSCN (IM) seeks alternative location before vacating Sihai Khunuo camp

The setting up of an “unauthorised camp” in gross violation of Ceasefire Ground Rules and against the spirit of the ceasefire agreement resulted in great inconvenience to the locals residing in the adjacent areas of Sihai village, the release said.

It said the matter was addressed by the security forces at the appropriate level so as to ensure that no further inconvenience is caused to the local people.

Also read: Assam Rifles-NSCN (IM) standoff over camp location continues

Stating that occupation of such a camp itself violates the spirit of the ceasefire agreement, the release said the NSCN (IM) leadership was given a reasonable time to vacate the camp after it was detected by the security forces. But the outfit failed to do so causing much hardship to the local populace, it added.

The attempt by the group to push the security forces to use force was responded with great restraint in order to ensure that the issue did not escalate further, and 21 long years of negotiations were not allowed to go waste.

“The setting up of an unauthorised camp in violation of ground rules agreed upon is most unfortunate and almost betrays the hopes of Naga people for the final accord anytime soon,” the release said.

The release alleged that the outfit orchestrated protest rallies by inciting tribal sentiments against Assam Rifles, who acted with great restraint while only enforcing the Ceasefire Ground Rules. Such action will only be counter-productive and will earn the NSCN (IM) the wrath of the common people, it added.

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com

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