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NSCN (I-M) vacates camp in Manipur

By Correspondent

DIMAPUR, May 1 - The NSCN (I-M) has vacated its camp at Sihai village, about 5 km from Khamasom near the Indo-Myanmar border in Ukhrul district of Manipur, Defence PRO Col C Konwer said in a press release today.

The Assam Rifles and the NSCN (I-M) had been locked in a standoff for five days following location of the camp by the security forces, with both sides stationing their reinforcements in the area.

The local residents of the area took out a procession on Tuesday, seeking peace and de-escalation of tension.

The Defence release said it was ensured that the NSCN (I-M) vacated its camp in conformity with the ceasefire ground rules by using the �good offices� of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) chairman and civil society organisations.

The release added that the security forces had been extremely careful not to escalate the situation �in spite of provocation from NSCN (I-M)� and approached the CFMG chairman though he has no �mandate� beyond Nagaland, maintaining the momentum in negotiations achieved after signing of the Framework Agreement with the NSCN (I-M).

The setting up of an �unauthorised camp� in gross violation of the ceasefire ground rules and against the spirit of the ceasefire agreement resulted in great inconvenience to the locals residing in the adjacent areas of Sihai village, the release said.

It added that the matter was addressed by the security forces at the appropriate level so as to ensure that no further inconvenience is caused to the local people.

Stating that occupation of such a camp itself violates the spirit of the ceasefire agreement, the release said the NSCN (I-M) leadership was given reasonable time to vacate the camp after it was detected by the security forces. But the outfit failed to do so, causing much hardship to the local populace, it added.

The attempt by the group to push the security forces to use force was responded to, with great restraint in order to ensure that the issue did not escalate further, and 21 long years of negotiations were not allowed to go in vain.

�The setting up of an unauthorised camp in violation of ground rules agreed upon is most unfortunate and almost betrays the hopes of Naga people for the final accord any time soon,� the release said.

The release alleged that the outfit orchestrated protest rallies by inciting tribal sentiments against the Assam Rifles, which acted with great restraint while only enforcing the ceasefire ground rules. Such action will only be counterproductive and earn the NSCN (I-M) the wrath of the common people, the release added.

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