Siroy stand off : IM adamant, accuses AR of haughtiness
Source: The Sangai Express

Siroy/Ukhrul, January 22 2009: The stand off between the Assam Rifles and the NSCN (IM) over a camp at Siroy in Ukhrul district continues with the Chief Administrative Officer of the Wung Region of the NSCN (IM), V Horam, categorically asserting "There is no third option, either war or peace.

There is no question of vacating the camp".

Interacting with The Sangai Express at Ukhrul district headquarters today, Horam accused the Assam Rifles of adopting a confrontationist stand and added, "There was no formal intimation at all.

If some prior formal contact was established, then the matter could have been talked over.

Since they have adopted a confrontationist stand, we will not budge".

We entered into a cease fire agreement with the Government of India because we wanted a peaceful solution.

AR men on the alert with the IM camp seen in the background and women praying for peace

However in this case, instead of giving us any prior information they surrounded our camp from 2 am of January 19" said Horam and added that as soon as he received the news, he contacted the Assam Rifles officials on phone but there was no positive response.

In an obvious reference to the stand of the Assam Rifles that no designated camps can be opened in Manipur as it does not come under the ambit of the cease fire pact, Horam said "Ceasefire is not bound by territory.

It means cessation of hostility and it was with this understanding that we entered into the ceasefire pact with the Government of India" .

Asserting that the matter could have been handled differently, Horam said that things could have been settled through talks and added that the IM group had changed camps earlier too.

"We have been informed that the Home Ministry has instructed the Assam Rifles authority to withdraw, but so there has been no positive response from their men here," claimed Horam. On the other hand tension continues to grip the people of Siroy village.

The AR troops have set up a temporary bunker atop a mound just opposite to the camp of the IM group with only a road in between.

In fact the two are separated by just a distance of about 30 yards.

Womenfolk of Siroy and adjoining villages such as Langdang, Choithar and Lunghar have been sitting on vigil 24 hours a day, interspersed with prayers, just at the base of the mound where the Assam Rifles have set up their bunker.

Assam Rifles troops have also been deployed on the Ukhrul-Jessami road, which runs through Siroy with vehicles put on stand by.

A team of Ukhrul police led by the 2nd OC have also been camping at Siroy village since yesterday.

The IM camp still remains sealed with no one allowed to enter or come out of it.

The Assam Rifles have been using four generators to light up the area and keep a tab on the camp.

Significantly, the CO of 17 Assam Rifles Colonel Dharam has been camping at Siroy and occasionally interacting with the women folk.

Headman of Siroy village, Wungachan Shangh while talking to The Sangai Express said that the villagers saw a large number of Assam Rifles troops when they woke up on January 19 morning.

"I was summoned by Major Amit and Major Nishant," said the Headman and added, "When I met them I was asked whether the IM group had given me any documents signed between the IM group and the Government of India that say that they can open a camp at Siroy.

I answered in the negative".

I told the officers that since there has been no problem for the last few years since the camp was opened, I did not think much about it".

Interacting with The Sangai Express villagers of Siroy said that from the evening of January 19, they have been advised by the Assam Rifles not to venture out to their field.

The villagers said that a large number of heavy guns including lethod bombs and rocket launchers have been stock piled at the AR bunker since January 19 .

"The AR men do not harass us.

In fact they have even provided medicines and treatment, but we are still very anxious as things may take a turn for the worst," said the villagers.

The villagers also said that though they have submitted a memorandum to the DC of Ukhrul to intervene, the district administration has not made even a spot inquiry.

Assam Rifles have also been announcing through the PA system urging the IM men to come out and surrender their weapons and leave the camp with the assurance that no harm will be done to them, informed the villagers.

Reporters from The Sangai Express who went to Siroy to cover the story saw some armed IM men near the camp while some were seen coming out unarmed on the terrace of the half constructed pucca building which serves as one of their bunkers.

Newmai News Network adds : Sources in the NSCN-IM at Camp Hebron, off Dimapur informed NNN that the Assam Rifles are holding their grudge over the Phek district incident where the Naga militants had detained 5/6 Assam Rifles personnel including a Captain on January 8 and also seized their weapons.

In that incident according to the NSCN-IM, the Assam Rifles personnel led by the Captain identified as one Momo had "intruded" into the outfit's designated camp.

The matter was resolved the following day after the intervention of the civil organisations and the confiscated weapons of the Assam Rifles returned.

Few days after the Phek incident, the stand-off between the NSCN-IM and the Assam Rifles occurred again when the latter forces allegedly 'patrolled' around the vicinity of the Camp Hebron.

In a statement issued by PRO 'Col' Levy Zimik of the "Naga Army", NSCN-IM said, " Ever since the dawn of revolution in Nagalim, an inextinguishable fire of nationalism has been burning in the heart of every Naga; the profound desire to liberate our land from all the clutches of foreign rule and to ensure the full measure of happiness for all, based on the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity.

"Col" Levy Zimik further stated that the cost was heavy; we had to pay the prize of freedom.

Then, at the height of violence, an agreement to cease all hostilities was entered in 1997 between the government of India and the NSCN-IM, so as to create conducive atmosphere for political dialogue between the two.

"Naga Army still honours the commitment we gave 12 years ago and in that spirit, we have come thus far, exercising restraint and overlooking petty incidences of breaching the ground rules by the Indian army and her agents.

However, when our counterpart always reciprocates in the manner to provoke and push us to the corner, taking due advantage of ceasefire agreement, it becomes imperative to question the purpose and the very existence of such agreement," Levy Zimik added.

He then asserted the episodes of intimidation in Phek, Hebron and now Ukhrul are nothing but a direct challenge to the validity of ceasefire agreement.

History has it that the 1st ceasefire agreement became almost non-existent after the break down of political talks in 1966 and eventually, India unilaterally abrogated it in 1972, the NSCN-IM leader added.

"Is the history of betrayal repeating again? It is an irony that a Para military force such as the notorious Assam Rifles should dare to defy the commitment given at the Prime Minister's level.

The vibrant question therefore that rings across the sub-continent is: Can India be trusted?," questioned the NSCN-IM leader.