Here are the profiles of the NSCN (Khaplang), KYKL and KCP — outfits that killed 18 Army personnel in Manipur’s Chandel district last week — and the complex context of the ongoing insurgency in which they operate.
The Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) was formed in 1988 after a fallout between the Burmese-born S S Khaplang and the leader of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah), Thuingaleng Muivah. Clan rivalries between the Konyaks of Nagaland’s northernmost Mon district, and the Tangkhul Nagas of Manipur’s Ukhrul district, which dominated the NSCN (IM), is cited as one of the main reasons for the split. The Khaplang faction was formed under the leadership of Khaplang and Konyak leader Khole Konyak.
Initially, both groups aimed to create a Greater Nagaland, uniting Naga areas of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal and Myanmar. But in the course of negotiations with India over the past 16 years, the NSCN (IM) is now willing to settle for autonomy of Naga areas. The demands of the Khaplang faction have remained relatively unchanged.
The operating area of the so-called NSCN-GPRN [Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland] — is primarily in eastern Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap and Changlang districts. Over the past few years, however, the Khaplang faction has made its presence felt in Manipur, whose Naga areas had so far been dominated by the NSCN (IM). Smaller or more backward Naga tribes have been asserting themselves against the more dominant Tangkhul Nagas. Some years ago, a new Naga insurgent group, the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), comprising former IM cadres, appeared in Tamenglong district, and has, over the past three years, fought turf battles with the IM with NSCN (K) support.
The NSCN (K) withdrew from its ceasefire with India in March, but continues to have an agreement with Myanmar. The group is dominant in Myanmar’s Sagaing and Kachin regions, and is believed to have links with other Myanmarese insurgents, with influence running up to Thailand.
The Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) — ‘Kangleipak’ is the Manipuri name for Manipur, or rather, the Manipuri kingdom as it existed in the valley area before becoming a part of India — was formed in 1980 under the leadership of Y Ibohalbi, with the creation of a Manipur nation as its main objective. After Ibohalbi was killed in an encounter in 1995, the KCP split into factions — KCP (City-Meitei), KCP (Prithvi), KCP (Mangang) and KCP (Noyon) — named after their leaders.
Over 30 factions of the KCP are believed to be currently operating in Manipur, some with memberships no larger than 15-20, others up to 100. The KCP (Noyon) is the most dominant. Amongst the banned groups, the KCP splinter groups are considered mercenaries who can be hired to shoot at small-time shopkeepers, deliver extortion demands, plant IEDs on highways, attack non-locals, and kidnap for ransom.
Over the years the KCP has also projected itself as the moral guardian of Meiteis. In 2005, it banned government doctors from working in private clinics, directed the re-introduction of the Manipuri script Meitei Mayek and made its teaching compulsory in schools, and banned Hindi films, songs and the production and sale of “corrupting” music videos. Most of these “bans” continue to apply in Manipur even now.
The militant Meitei Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup was formed in 1994 after the Oken faction of the UNLF, the Meiraba faction of the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak), and the Ibo Pishak faction of the KCP came together. In 1995, the KYKL split into KYKL (O) and KYKL (T), but reunited in 2002.
The KYKL has traditionally been close to the NSCN (IM). In 2002, the groups teamed up with Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), and gained entry into the Kuki-Zomi dominated Churachandpur district, where they assisted ZRA in its turf war against Kuki insurgent groups operating under the umbrella of Kuki National Organisation (KNO).
To gain public sympathy and support in the valley, the KYKL launched Operation New Kangleipak (ONK) to “clean up Meitei society”, an anti-corruption drive targeting educational institutions. The group has earlier gone after drug peddlers and users, allegedly shooting them in the leg as punishment.