The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) issued a condolence message on Sunday over the death of six cadres of the insurgent group killed by security forces in Longding district of Arunachal Pradesh on July 11.
Stating that their members were “brutally gunned down by Assam Rifles in total contravention to the existing Ceasefire agreement between the Government of India and NSCN,” the group made public the names of the slain members - their second lieutenant Somaya Satsang, Ashak Wangsa, Somipam Shaiza, Sawang Pansa, Lentsuba Lalii and Pougouhao Lhangum.
Sources revealed that the six insurgents belonged to the NSCN-IM group headed by their Major General Absalom Tangkhul operating from Myanmar or inside Indian territory. He currently heads IM operations in South Arunachal and is believed to be behind the assassination of Khonsa MLA Tirong Aboh who was killed in an ambush in May last year along with ten others, including his son.
Reiterating that ceasefire ground rules are not applicable in South Arunachal Pradesh, Commander of 25 Sector Assam Rifles, Brigadier Vijay Chahar said that security agencies are trying to ascertain if the six militants had links with the NSCN-IM faction operating in Myanmar.
“Identification of the neutralised cadres and their allegiance with NSCN-IM faction operating from Myanmar is being ascertained,” Brigadier Chahar told media while addressing a joint press meet of Assam Rifles and Arunachal Pradesh police in Khonsa on Sunday.
As the investigation continues, National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials told News 18 that on basis of their names, the six rebels had “no connection” with the attack on the Khonsa legislator. In January this year, the NIA had filed a charge sheet against four NSCN-IM cadres over the death of Aboh.
“No connection revealed, as of now, from the point of view of their names. Further investigation needed,” an NIA official said.
The NSCN factions have signed separate ceasefire agreements with the Central government. Arunachal Pradesh has always been a non-ceasefire zone with territorial limit of the ceasefire existing only within the state of Nagaland. Besides the NSCN-IM, which is the largest of the rebel groups in Northeast, the NSCN(K) Yung Aung faction and ULFA-Independent cadres also operate in these areas.
The joint operation by Assam Rifles, Indian Army and Arunachal Police on Saturday took place near Nginu village, southeast of Longding under Wakka circle. The area is close to the Nagaland border. Defence sources said the group had “infiltrated with the intention of carrying out subversive and anti-national activities.”
In the almost 90-minutes long firefight, the militants fired more than 250 rounds. An Assam Rifles soldier suffered a gunshot injury and was evacuated to the nearest hospital. Officials seized ‘six sophisticated automatic assault rifles, approximately 500 rounds of live ammunition, two hand grenades, five Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and other war-like stores’.
While reminding the UG groups to stay in their designated camps in areas where ceasefire ground rules are valid, Assam Rifles Commander Brigadier Chahar said that “security forces are fully geared to handle any situation and sustained operations shall continue with full vigour to ensure peace and tranquillity in the area.”