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The Centre cannot afford to let the 23-year-old Naga ceasefire unravel

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On July 11, the defence wing of the Press Information Bureau put out a statement about an armed operation in Arunachal Pradesh. Six members of the National Socialists Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah faction) had been “neutralised” in a joint operation conducted by the Indian Army and the Assam Rifles, it said.

Security forces were acting on specific intelligence about the presence of cadres from the “proscribed group”, the statement said. The shooting was started by the militants, it claimed, who opened fire when they saw the column of troops.

The next day, the NSCN(IM) put out its own statement, issued from its headquarters in Hebron in Nagaland. It contained a list of soldiers from the Naga Army who were killed in Longding, it accused the security forces of killing them in “cold blood” for “fabricated” reasons.

The action was a means for the army to “vent its frustration” against China, whose troops are stationed close by along the restive border, the statement claimed. It was also a violation of the Indo-Naga ceasefire of 1997, which was supposed to pave the way for “peace and political negotiation”. The ceasefire had “lost its meaning” and the Indian government had reneged on the peace accord signed in 2015,...

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