Ceasefire Under Fire

IT was an ambush carefully planned and well-executed, and yet the target escaped unhurt. But that’s an old habit with Nagaland chief minister S.C. Jamir; since ‘90, he’s survived not less than three serious attempts on his life. And on November 29, he escaped the deadliest attack yet. But in the process, the 27-month-old ceasefire between the Centre and the Th. Muivah and Issac Swu-led group of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), regarded as the most powerful insurgent group in the north-east, appeared heading towards an imminent breakdown. Although the NSCN(IM) denies any involvement, both Jamir and the security forces are convinced the ambush was the handiwork of NSCN cadres.

Jamir, who was travelling from Dimapur to the state capital Kohima, survived 14 bombs, dodged tracer fire and crawled through a ditch on National Highway 39 to escape the attack. Two policemen, part of the CM’s personal security detail, were killed in the half-hour shootout. Two more persons, including Jamir’s driver, were injured. This particular stretch of NH 39, about 45 km from Dimapur, the only railhead in the state, had been lined with 14 explosive charges set a little over 10 feet apart. The explosives went off simultaneously as the motorcade of eight vehicles approached at about 5.45 am. Three pilot vehicles had just passed this point and a fourth was overtaking a truck when the explosives detonated. The other four cars in the convoy screeched to a halt as the huge blast threw the truck onto the overtaking car and blocked the road.