|Kohima, May 21,2008: The NSCN (I-M) today put up a brave front in the face of recent bickering in its ranks, saying the outfit was strong enough to thwart any threat posed to the “Naga cause”.It said the clamour for unification raised by the outfit’s former leader Azheto Chopy, who broke away from the parent body in November, was only to confuse the Naga people and sabotage the ongoing peace process with the Centre.
In its first reactions to the formation of another splinter group, the United Naga People’s Council (UNPC), the convenor of the NSCN (I-M)’s ceasefire monitoring cell, Phungthing Shimrang, said the members of the “so called new outfit” were actually from the group formed by Chophy. “There has been no defection from the NSCN. Some members of Chophy’s group are again claiming to have formed a new group just to confuse the people and sabotage the ongoing peace process with the Centre,” Shimrang said.
Chophy, along with other breakaway members of the NSCN (I-M), had recently formed the NSCN (Unification). The group had since cosied up to NSCN (Khaplang).
The NSCN (Isak-Muivah), the NSCN (Khaplang) and the NSCN (Unification) have been a waging a bloody battle of attrition — the recent one costing 14 of their own men and two civilians.
Amid the bitter factional war, some members of the NSCN (I-M) claimed to have formed another group by splitting from the parent organisation.
The leaders of the nascent outfit claimed that they defected from the NSCN (I-M) as they were disenchanted with its policies.
The NSCN (I-M) was creating a division between the hill and the valley people in Manipur, the members of the UNPC alleged at a news conference in Senapati district.
The UNPC said it would root out the NSCN (I-M) from Manipur, protect and preserve the state’s territorial integrity and forge unity with the people of valley and hills to restore Manipur’s sovereignty.
Shimrang said the UNPC had been formed by a “major” who had earlier defected from the NSCN (I-M) along with Chophy. The members of this new outfit are from the Poumai Naga tribe, who Shimrang said had been misled by some vested interests to undermine the Naga political issue by confusing the innocent Nagas.
The NSCN (I-M) leader said the so-called UNPC was a “bogus outfit” which would not survive without the support of the Naga people. He, however, did not say whether the NSCN (I-M) would launch any operation against the new outfit