| Turf war intensified among the Naga extremist outfits
From Our Special Correspondent
IMPHAL, June 23: The battle lines are drawn among the Naga underground organizations which have been operating in the hill districts of Manipur. Apart from bloody gun fights the turf war intensified with three outfits pledging to drive out the NSCN(IM) from Zeliangrong areas.
The State government in general and the Home Minister G Gaikhangam, in particular are concerned over the imminent bloodshed in many parts of the State. For Gaikhangam it is a very delicate issue since he is a Zeliangrong hailing from Tamenglong district. Ahead of the January 30 Assembly elections he faced threats from some armed groups. In fact most of his election offices were attacked and one elderly woman supporter was killed.
The Manipur government has been in constant touch with the Union Home Ministry to cope with the appalling situation since fireworks have already been started. On Wednesday night Haochong village where some cadres of the NSCN(K), the Naga National Council and the Zeliangrong United Front were bivouacking was attacked. The three outfits claim that it was engineered by the NSCN(IM) with the help of some local collaborators.
Three NSCN(K) cadres, two villagers including a woman and one NSCN(IM) were killed. In a statement the NSCN(K) cadre mentioned that in a revenge attack it had killed Athikho Mao, the town commander of the NSCN(IM) in Tamenglong on Thursday night. Police fear that there will be more retaliatory strikes from the NSCN(IM).
The Manipur government has replaced S Bralal, the Director General of Police with Y Joykumar. The step was taken up at the directive of the Union Home Ministry. Joykumar who had been the DGP for a long time was removed on the eve of the Assembly elections since several political parties had lodged complaints against his alleged partiality. Gaikhangam has also been moving around in a bid to revamp the police and paramilitary forces. Observers feel that this is intended to hone the battle preparedness of the State forces.
The press statement said that the NSCN(K), the Naga National Front and the Zeliangrong United Front have joined hands. It further claimed that 80 per cent of the people support this common group. However, with the help of some collaborators the NSCN(IM) men had stalked the cadres of these outfits through a secret road. It further claimed that one cadre of the NSCN(IM) was killed. But the body was carried away, it added.
From the Wednesday’s encounter and some other incidents it is clear that the State and the central forces were nowhere nearby during the fireworks. There has not been a single instance of rounding up of any gunmen. Should there be fresh violence the State will be caught napping.