COMBATING THE NAGA INSURGENCY: A RETROSPECTIVE ACCOUNT

The Indian Army was inducted into Nagaland to combat insurgency in early fifties. 2 Maratha LI (Kali Panchvi) was the first battalion of our Regiment to be inducted in Nagaland after India’s independence. The battalion was deployed in areas East of Kohima, Chakabhana and Phek to combat insurgency. Phek, a small village then, is today a district headquarter. Thereafter, 9 Maratha LI was deployed for CI operations in 1964 with the Battalion HQ at Phek. 22 Maratha LI was operating hand in hand in various raids conducted during the same period.

The battalion contributed significantly in capture of Mau Angami, a self-styled general and disintegration of Naga Army. Then Maj. N.V. Subbarao, Maj. Y.S. Shinde, Capt. J.J. Singh (who rose to be the Army Chief and later was the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh) played a very important role in the entire operation. But for the role and contribution of 9 Maratha LI in capture of the Naga Army returning from China after two years training, under leadership of Mau Angami in 1969, the history of Nagaland, Naga insurgency and may be the political geography of Northeast could have been different today. Maj. Y.S. Shinde was awarded SM after successful ambush of Naga Army in which the present top insurgent leaders of NSCM (IM) were injured. The battalion contributed towards blunting the group comprising of almost 300 insurgents duly trained, armed equipped and indoctrinated in Yunan province of China by PLA of China.

Over the years Tirap and Changlang districts of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh bordering Myanmar got affected by insurgency due to tribal affinity. These districts, the district of Mon in Nagaland and adjoining area across the border into Myanmar, became a strong hold of NSCN (K) and it continues even today. It was coincidental that in 1981, 9 Maratha LI again conducted a raid employing a special operational philosophy and destroyed the insurgent camps across the border. Maj (later Col) P.S. Bhandral played a very valuable role in this operation. He had just joined the battalion as a young officer when the operations were launched against Naga Army in 1969, but had learnt the tricks of special trans-border operations. The spread of Naga insurgency in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur resulted in new demand by NSCN (IM) for “Nagalim” Greater Nagaland. The demand continues even today, though there is an indication based on successful talks between the NSCN(IM) and the government, that the long awaited settlement may well take place, ushering peace into the area after six decades of violence.

22 Maratha LI contributed significantly relieving 9 Maratha LI in Anutangre and participated in capture of large caches H Movia the secretary of Mau Angami, three Naga hostile SS Officers and large quantities of ammunition. BHM Dhondiram Jagtap was awarded Sena Medal.

Lt Gen D B Shekatkar commanded 6 Maratha LI, and was the Commandant, Infantry School, Mhow.

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