‘Are you challenging the NSCN (IM)?’: Operative’s chilling threat prior to Tirap massacre

[ Tongam Rina ]

ITANAGAR, Jun 22: While the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) inquiry into the massacre of 13 people, including NPP MLA Tirong Aboh, on 21 May in Bogapani in Tirap district is ongoing, an audio clip containing a chilling phone call, purportedly by an NSCN (IM) operative, telling an NPP supporter of Khonsa West constituency not to challenge the outfit, has emerged.
This daily is not able to vouch for the authenticity of the recorded phone conversation, which was sent to this reporter. The recording was made sometime in March this year.
The clip has reportedly been submitted to the NIA to determine whether the call had been made by the NSCN (IM). It is understood that the person who received the phone call and recorded it is being questioned by the NIA.
However, some of the events that are described in the conversation, including about setting up check gates in the villages by NPP workers, and the NPP meeting held in Laho, were verified by this daily.
In the audio clip, which is in Nagamese, the alleged NSCN (IM) operative is heard asking: “Apuni khan NPP paisa tu khai kina government ke challenge kora ase? NSCN (IM) ke challenge kora ase? (After taking money from the NPP, are you challenging the government? Are you challenging the NSCN-IM?)”
The clip is more than five minutes long.
“Are you are trying to chase us out?” asks the person, who threatens to unleash violence if the leaders act against the outfit.
Referring to 33-year-old Jalin Hakkun, a close aide of Tirong Aboh who was killed along with him, the person says if Hakkun does not mend his ways, he would be skinned.
“If I am angry, I will skin him. Tell him that I will skin him… Tell Jalin to call me in this number… he is the one responsible for all.”
The person continues, saying that no one should obstruct the NSCN (IM) from carrying out its activities, and that whoever does so would not be spared.
“Watch out for 2019 if you don’t listen to us,” the man says.
“We have the list of all who are working against us,” says the man, adding that the meeting in Laho should not be held.
“We don’t care who will die or survive if the meeting happens,” he says. “This is not a joke but a diktat from the NSCN (IM). Don’t do any meetings. Let them vote for whomever they want to vote for.”
“We know where the house of Jalin and Tirong is,” the man says.
Insiders say that Tirong Aboh’s supporters in villages had set up check gates in order to bar the opposition BJP and the NSCN (IM) from campaigning.
“You are a Naga. Why did you do the meeting in which you all decided to chase the NSCN (IM) out?” the man demands to know, adding that the outfit has a list of everyone, including youth leaders and the left and right hands (of the MLA).
“If I hear that people are being beaten up at the check gates and they are being chased out of the villages… no one will be spared,” he says.
“Don’t do when told not to do. Don’t go overboard… Listen when told. It is not a joke… It is a diktat from the government of the NSCN (IM),” the man says.
Though the NSCN (IM) has reportedly denied its involvement in the massacre, many say that if the outfit was not involved, it should hand over its leaders, who are currently absconding, to the NIA for questioning.
The main NSCN (IM) leaders in the area are its operation commander for Tirap, Changlang and Longding, self-styled brigadier Absulem Rockwang, and kilonser James Kiwang of the outfit’s civil wing, who is a Myanmarese national but is settled in Tirap.
People in Tirap say both the leaders, who usually spent time in Khonsa, have since left the district.
Those who were killed along with 47-year-old Tirong Aboh on 21 May included his workers Wangngoi Hakhun (35), Jalin Hakhun (33), Wangngu Hakhun (30), Gamwang Hakhun (28), all from the same family, teacher Tangro Atoa (47), PSOs Poanhang Agi (38) and Khundong Siksa (50), driver Patwang Sumpa (20), Aboh’s son Along and nephew Matlam.
Along and Matlam were 20-year-old college students.
The injured, Wangdan Hakhun (26) and Wangsen Hakhun (32), are still undergoing treatment outside the state.
PSO Nokliam Tekwa and a worker in the Aboh household, Nyajut Hakhun, escaped the massacre unhurt.
Aboh defeated his BJP rival, Phawang Lowang, in the assembly election, but he was assassinated before the declaration of result.