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After ceasefire deal, will NSCN(K) chief Niki Sumi get a safe passage from Myanmar?

The ceasefire agreement with the Naga group was signed on Sept 8

A poster with a Naga flag is seen on the entrance of a shop in Kohima | AP A poster with a Naga flag is seen on the entrance of a shop in Kohima | AP

From his hideout in Somra Tract in Naga administered region of Myanmar to a possible safe passage to be with his wife in Dimapur, self styled commander of NSCN(K) Niki Sumi, stands to gain from the recent ceasefire agreement signed with the government on September 8.

But for the government, there is limited success for now as there are several challenges ahead. The positive part of the agreement is that Niki is a Naga from Indian side and with the fresh pact, the NSCN(K) link with Myanmar Nagas is expected to visibly weaken.

The training facilities and shelter in Myanmar is also expected to reduce which will be to the advantage of New Delhi.

By bringing different factions of Naga groups on board and isolating the NSCN(IM)—with which it has signed the framework agreement—the government may be able to put pressure on the NSCN(IM) to step down from its demands for a separate flag and Constitution and arrive at a consensus on the Naga peace deal.

On the other hand, there is a danger of landing in a situation where the different factions of Naga groups split the insurgent movement in a way that may not only delay the peace process but also make Nagaland a fertile ground for factionalism, extortion and killings.

Sumi, the self-styled commander of the NSCN(K), is wanted in the 2015 attack on an Indian army convoy of 6 Dogra regiment in Chandel district of Manipur in which 18 army jawans were killed. He carries a reward on his arrest.

After he was expelled from the “undivided” NSCN(K) group, Sumi had floated his own outfit. He spent years in Somra making money through mining of precious stones there. But his wife has been living in Dimapur and those who have led anti insurgency operations in the area knew that Sumi wanted to return to his family sooner than later.

The ceasefire with the Niki Sumi group has irked the Muivah-led NSCN(IM) which said that signing ceasefire agreements with its “surrogate factions” is a futile exercise since there is only one solution to Naga issue .

NSCN(IM), which is the largest insurgent outfit, already has a strained relationship with interlocutor R.N. Ravi and has accused him of adopting a “divide and rule” policy. Ravi went on to become Nagaland governor and the peace talks took a further hit. But the government has now transferred Ravi from Nagaland to Tamil Nadu Raj Bhawan and all eyes are on whether a fresh interlocutor is appointed.

According to the MHA, 200 cadres with 83 weapons have joined the peace process as part of the ceasefire signed with Niki Sumi group.

“A ceasefire agreement was expected sooner or later,” said a senior security official.

However, the latest developments may not have much bearing on the final accord that has already suffered a delay, said a security official.  The worry is that each group will have a territory and turf wars would continue.

“More the groups in ceasefire, the more difficult it is to please all and reach an acceptable agreement,” said the official .

But security officials said there is no negative side of the instant agreement.

The government can claim that they are serious about arriving at a peaceful solution and the ceasefire pact is a step in that direction.

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