The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland on Tuesday criticised the Centre’s move to launch counter-insurgency operations against its cadres in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. the Hindustan Times reported. The NSCN (IM), the largest Naga rebel group, also warned the Centre of “disastrous consequences” for both sides.

In a statement, the NSCN(IM) said the Centre’s move came as a shock to it, adding that government should handle the situation with great sensitivity and not put its security forces against the cadres of the rebel group. The NSCN(IM) is currently in the final stages of peace talks with the government.

“In such a situation NSCN members cannot allow themselves to be sitting ducks,” it said. “Our patience should not be translated as weak and helpless. The consequences would be disastrous for both the parties.” It added that the government’s action was not in the interest of the ceasefire across Naga areas, reported NDTV. The ceasefire with the NSCN(IM), however, does not apply to Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The rebel group further accused the Centre of using time and again the “sincere approach” of Naga people to suit the government’s “colonial divide and rule policy”. This reflected in the peace talks with the Centre, it added.

It cited the Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015, as a “living document” to guide both sides to a final solution. The rebel group said that the 2015 agreement was a symbol of its desire to live peacefully.

The statement also said that the Nagas had come far to find a peaceful solution, adding that it is now important for the government to exercise political will for a final deal. “But the Government of India still continues to waver,” it said. “This is a sign of weakness and insincerity.”

“The political right of the Naga people is no longer an issue that necessitate(s) any review,” the group said. “However, this has not been reciprocated with the correct political steps.”

The rebel group’s statement came when Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane was in Nagaland on a three-day visit. He will visit various formations under the Army’s Eastern Command to review security and operational preparedness.

The Indian government had signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN(IM) in 1997. The Centre and the rebel group had in 2015 begun negotiations for a solution to the Indo-Naga political problem. However, a joint team of the Assam Rifles and the Indian Army destroyed three NSCN(IM) camps in June 2018, during an operation in Motongsa village of Arunachal Pradesh.

In July last year, the Centre informed a Parliamentary panel that it signed a framework agreement with the rebel group, after it agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation with a “special status”.

On September 12, 2019, the NSCN(IM) said that the Naga community will not merge with the Union of India, but will coexist with India as two entities. It also called upon the Nagas to “seize the opportunity” for a solution to the Indo-Naga political problem. The Centre on October last year dismissed the demand of the rebel for a separate flag and Constitution, and said that it was delaying peace negotiations.