Locals in Manipur’s Senapati district on Friday bailed out members of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim out of a food crisis by handing over relief materials. The outfit is also called the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM). The relief materials included rice, pulses and personal protection items such as masks and hand sanitisers. These were provided to the members of the outfit’s Huthrong Brigade near district headquarters Senapati, north of Imphal.

Subtle Message

The civil society groups that undertook the initiative also conveyed a message to the NSCN-IM cadres. Apart from food items, they gifted the cadres vegetable seeds and farming tools for productive use of time during the lockdown.

“The outreach program was the first of its kind. It was a touch of goodwill at the time of a pandemic for building peace and harmony,” said K.S. Paul Leo, former president of the United Naga Council that led the initiative. The relief distribution to an unspecified number of NSCN-IM cadres was marked by performance by Guru Rewben Mashangva, a popular folk singer who sang the newly-composed “Let’s make these lockdown memories together”.

Members of the NSCN-IM, under a ceasefire agreement since July 1997, have been living off an array of annual or monthly “taxes” levied on traders, transporters, government and private sector employees as well as farmers.

Such taxes began drying up from March, a month after the pandemic struck India.