A face-off between Assam Rifles and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) was averted on January 27 after the Central Armed Police Force’s (CAPF’s) patrolling party encountered a hostile armed Naga outfit in Lilenkuki area of Intangki national forest in Perin district of Nagaland.

The 31 personnel of 25 Assam Rifles unit, led by a Major and assisted by a Captain, was moving in the Intangki national forest when they reached Lilenkuki area. The CAPF team was surrounded by NSCN men around 2.30 pm on January 27 and was sternly asked not to move ahead on the pretext that it was their area and out-of-bounds for Army, said sources in Assam Rifles and local police. Both parties were armed. The CAPF Major was told by NSCM(IM) ultras to back off from the place. It led to heated exchange for about half-an-hour but the issue was resolved after intervention from both sides, sources pointed out.

The national park, which is close to NSCN(IM) designated Hebron camp, is alleged to have strong presence of the Naga outfits restricting access to others, which was also a a reason for the flashpoint. S

The Assam Rifles unit is understood to have not taken local police representatives during the patrolling which is a contravention of the standard operating procedure, given that cops work not just as guide due to their familiarity with the geography but their presence also helps in optics.

Lt General Amarjeet Singh Bedi, Chairman, Ceasefire Monitoring Group, Nagaland, confirmed to businessline that the face-off between Assam Rifles and NSCN(IM) happened but clarified “the issue has been resolved”.

Lt General Bedi, however, stated, “When there are two parties and some party violates, something is bound to happen. Due to timely intervention, it was resolved since there are mechanisms in place”. According to the Chairman of Ceasefire Monitoring Group, such confrontation keeps on happening. Police sources stated the face-off happens since parties don’t follow the ground rule of a ceasefire which is to inform each other about their movement.”

When asked if the Assam Rifles team did not incorporate with the local police, he said normally they do but this time there was no representative. “If things were not in place, the ceasefire with the Nagas would not have lasted for 25 years,” Bedi commented.

Though the Centre-NSCN(IM) ceasefire completed 25 years last year, a long-lasting political solution still remains unfulfilled.