India-Myanmar: KNA-B And NSCN-IM: Rogue Vs. Rogue – Analysis


By Afsara Shaheen

On June 15, 2024, R. S. Winson, a ‘captain’ of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isaac Muivah (NSCN-IM) was ambushed and killed by the Kuki National Army – Burma (KNA-B) near the Indo-Myanmar border in Angko Ching across the Tengnoupal District of Manipur.

On the same day, a letter (written in Tangkhul) issued by ‘lt. gen.’ A. Ramsan, ‘Deputy Longvibu (commander-in-chief)’ of NSCN-IM, read, “Your son, R. S. Winson, was unfortunately killed in action on June 15, 2024, at Angko Ching Range jungle by the Kuki National Army – Burma. Your son, as the commander, fought and engaged with the KNA-B at 6.30 pm and died on the spot.”

The letter alleged that in ‘Eastern Nagalim’ (present-day Myanmar), as the NSCN-IM continued to strengthen its movement, they face constant opposition from the Indian Security Forces (SFs), who, in connivance with the KNA-B, sought to undermine NSCN-IM’s aspirations by persistently opposing and attacking the Nagas. In the letter, the NSCN-IM asserted, further, “Despite these challenges, we remain steadfast in defending our territory for the cause of the Naga Nation.”

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the June 15 incident is the only recorded killing in the clashes between KNA-B and NSCN-IM on Indian territory. Another two such incidents occurred on Myanmar soil: 

May 13, 2024: An NSCN-IM cadre, Sentilong Jamir, was killed by KNA-B cadres while ‘on duty’ at the Indo-Myanmar border. Detailing the incident, ‘lt. gen.’ Wungyip, ‘adjutant general’ of NSCN-IM, stated that Sentilong Jamir of Mokokchung, Nagaland, was captured by KNA-B on May 11, 2024, while performing routine duty at the Indo-Myanmar border in Kamjong District, Manipur. Jamir was subsequently tortured to death on May 13, 2024, in Myothit in Myanmar. However, on May 23, 2024, emphasizing that many from the military junta had surrendered to them during the operation, the KNA-B claimed, “During intense battlefield engagements, it is impossible to identify individual opponents unless they surrender or are captured. Our fight is to reinstate democratic principles in Myanmar, and we respect the lives of our opponents.”

February 10, 2024: An NSCN-IM cadre, Honpam Chithung, was killed by KNA-B at the border town of Ongjia in the Sagaing Region of Myanmar. Following the incident NSCN-IM released a statement which read, 

This particular incident [killing of Honpam Chithung] has deeply affected the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) and the ‘Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN)’. The people’s government has taken strong exception to the actions of the KNA-B and the Kuki villages near the border, such as Mawailuk, Aishi, and Phaikoh. This kind of senseless warmongering is an affront to the dignity and honor of the Nagas.

Meanwhile, according to NSCN-IM, KNA-B has killed four of their cadres till date in four separate incidents. (Three incidents mentioned above, while details of the fourth incident are not available). 

Interestingly, there has been no recorded incident of a KNA-B fatality at the hands on NSCN-IM, till date.

However, on January 2, 2024, at least eight Security Force (SF) personnel, including five special commando personnel and three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, sustained injuries in rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack by suspected KNA-B militants at Moreh in Tengnoupal District. Following the incident, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh stated, “We are having some doubts on the involvement of foreign mercenaries from the Myanmar side of the incident (sic). Multiple sources have told us. The involvement of KNA-B is highly possible.”

KNA-B has a Manipur-based wing, the Kuki National Army (KNA).

In a press statement issued on May 23, 2024, by NSCN-IM’s ‘GPRN’, its ‘ministry of information and publicity’ (MIP), claimed that the ‘Naga Army’ recently faced a coordinated attack by the combined forces of the KNA-B and Indian SFs, leaving locals bewildered and wary of their presence.

On May 15, 2024, through another statement, NSCN-IM accused Indian SFs of helping the Kuki militant groups to wage war against the Meitei revolutionary groups in Myanmar. It read, 

Indian Security Forces were extending logistics and material support to KNA-B to wage war against the Meitei revolutionary groups stationed in Myanmar. Indian security forces even allowed the Kuki militant groups operating in Tengnoupal district, Manipur, to enter Myanmar and fight with the Meitei revolutionary groups. It is sensitive to the propaganda war waged by the Government of India against NSCN who had signed ceasefire with GoI and engaged in political talks for the last 27 years.

The statement came a day after a report of a charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was released, in which NIA alleged that the “China-Myanmar module” of NSCN-IM, the Naga outfit that signed a Framework Agreement with the Union Government in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, helped two banned Meitei outfits to infiltrate Manipur to fuel ethnic violence and de-stabilise the State.

Interestingly, on May 14, 2024, the NIA charge sheet alleged that the “China-Myanmar module” of the NSCN-IM supported the cadres of two banned Meitei groups, Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL) and People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to infiltrate into India in order to exploit the current ethnic unrest in Manipur, with the larger goal to de-stabilise the State and wage war against the Government of India (GoI). The charge sheet filed in a Guwahati court on March 7, 2024, against five accused persons who were arrested in July 2023, in Manipur, stated, further, that the accused “criminally conspired with intent to carry out violent terror attacks targeting the rival Kuki-Zo community with prohibited arms and ammunition.” According to the NIA, one of the accused, identified as Anand Singh, mobilised local youth for arms training to escalate the ethnic strife and, in July 2023, participated in a weapons training camp organised in Selloi Langamai Ecological Park near Keikhu by PLA cadres, where around 80 to 90 young men received training in handling firearms.

According to NSCN-IM, there are major concerns about the way the Para Regiment and the Assam Rifles were protecting the crucial Indo-Myanmar border in Kamjong District. It claimed that the Kukis were granted free access to cross the border, while non-Kukis faced discrimination and restrictions. Allegations have been made regarding the unrestricted entry of arms and ammunition into Myanmar, where the KNA-B fights the Myanmar government under the banner of the Democratic Alliance Army. Indian SFs are said to assist and facilitate these operations.

The Indian SFs have been accused by the NSCN of carrying out covert operations alongside KNA-B against the Naga Army and Meitei revolutionaries who are part of the Western Southeast Asia (WeSEA) coalition, despite logistical challenges. According to NSCN-IM, male refugees in Kamjong camps are compelled by AR to engage in espionage and reconnaissance, thereby converting them into ‘henchmen’.

Additionally, NSCN-IM claimed that KNA-B, Peoples Defense Force (PDF), and the Indian SFs were closely connected and that the Indian SFs supplied all of the materials used in their schemes. They provided KNA-B and PDF in Myanmar’s Chin Province, which borders Mizoram and Manipur, with weaponry. Furthermore, they provided galvanized iron pipes for their bomb manufacturing plant located in Phaiyang village. KNA-B allegedly received training from the Indian SFs on how to manufacture explosives and use drones to deliver them. The India SFs keep watch on the KNA-B bomb manufacturing facility in Phaiyang around-the-clock. Phaiyang is a village in Myanmar that faces Namlee village in the Kamjong District of Manipur and is near the Indian border.

Allegation further indicate that KNA-B has evolved into a coalition of Kukis from Bangladesh, Manipur, and Myanmar, led by the 21 Para Regiment and 8th Assam Rifles, which the NSCN-IM has accused of being their main enemy. NSCN-IM also claims that the main goal seems to be to neutralise the WeSEA and NSCN-IM revolutionaries.

KNA-B and KNA have, however, refuted any affiliation with the Assam Rifles and the paratroopers. Meanwhile, NSCN-IM asserted that the Kuki group was “being given unrestrained access” to the crossing sites, allowing them to easily cross the border between India and Myanmar.

According to a May 19, 2024, press release by ‘information secretary’ Francis Kuki, KNA-B clarified,

Indian Forces helping Kuki Militants to wage war against Meitei groups in Myanmar: NSCN-IM accusing the Kukis being used by the Indian security forces as frontal forces to engage in bloody discord against the Nagas, the KNO [Kuki National Organization]/KNA-B, would like to clarify that the allegation is baseless and unfounded, and is apparently done with the sole motive of tarnishing KNA-B’s image and its political stand i.e. restoration of democracy in Myanmar. A camera recovered from the abandoned camp of Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) has a video clip in which a PLA member is seen standing in front of the gathering in military uniform and thanking the chief minister, N. Biren Singh for supplying powerful weapons to the PLA. This reveals the truth that it is the Meitei militants who are illegally being sheltered in Myanmar army camps situated along the border towns and are being used in crushing the pro- democracy movement. Instead of lending support to the anti-democratic Meitei militants at whose hand many of Manipur Naga civilians have fallen victims in Imphal, the NSCN should raise voice and defend their defenseless people who are being targeted in the Imphal valley by the Meitei miscreants.

It is worth mentioning here that, despite the 2015 peace deal or the Framework Agreement signed between the Union Government and the NSCN-IM, the outfit’s ‘chief’ T. Muivah had alleged that the then Naga peace talks interlocutor and former Governor of Nagaland R. N. Ravi had misled a standing committee of Parliament and the Modi government and tried to divide the Naga people.  Muivah had gone back to his hardline position, insisting on a separate flag, a separate constitution, and shared sovereignty.

As recorded from reports of intelligence sources, Myanmar still provides safe haven to Indian insurgent groups, including the United National Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) as well as various Naga and Kuki groups, with rebel camps located farther to the north of Moreh and Tamu along the Indo-Myanmar border. The current developments between KNA-B and NSCN-IM suggest a two-way problem — the Manipur conflict spilling over into neighbouring Myanmar, and the impact of the unrest and instability in Myanmar on Indian insurgent groups operating there.

Disturbingly, the allegations of the NSCN-IM and KNA-B against each other’s position clearly highlight the prevailing trust deficits in the ongoing peace processes between the GoI and the NSCN-IM. It is a matter of grave concern, especially when the government enters into peace agreements on its terms on the one hand and, on the other, is alleged to be using a foreign rogue element (KNA-B) to deplete the leadership of the NSCN-IM. Such action would be evidence of poor political management in the region, and would be detrimental to the spirit of the 2015 Framework Agreement, and for an enduring peace in the region.

  • Afsara Shaheen
    Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management


SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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