Resolve core issue of integration, IM tells GoI
Source: Amitabha Roychowdhury / PTI

New Delhi, Jun 17: Six months after they came to India for talks, Naga leaders feel the UPA Government is avoiding a resolution of the core issue of integration of Naga-inhabited areas, without which they say there could be "no solution at all" to the Naga problem.

Right now with the peace talks making no apparent progress, NSCN(I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and his colleagues are planning to pack their bags for Amsterdam next week.

Muivah parried questions whether they were thinking of quitting the talks process.

Suggesting a federal relationship between the Naga state and India, he told PTI in an interview that the Government "seems to be willing to avoid it...

If this issue is not resolved, there can be no solution at all".

The top NSCN(I-M) leader, however, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson were "sincere" and "some" among the Group of Ministers negotiating with them were "serious and sensible.

We have respect for them.

But how far they can get their way through is yet to be seen". Asked whether they would quit the peace talks in case of a failure to arrive at a solution on the issue, Muivah said "we have not received any positive response from the Government.

But from our side, we have made our position very clear on all issues.

No issue has been left unclear.

So, it is for the Government to give us a response". Observing that Centre wanted a consensus among the people of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to resolve the integration issue, he said this "amounts to having the fate of Naga people being decided by them.

It is an insult to the Nagas and we will never accept this".

Muivah, however, said the NSCN(I-M) was "willing" to talk to the people�s representatives from these three States to explore an understanding on the integration issue.

"But so long as the Government is backing them, they will not say yes" to the talks and the Government would use it "as a pretext not to resolve the issue", he said.

"We are not demanding any piece of land that belongs to the people of these three States.

The areas we seek are those where the Nagas have settled historically", he said.

The NSCN(I-M) said the "uniqueness" of Naga history had to be understood by all those conducting the negotiations.

"The Nagas were neither conquered by the British, nor by Indians.

Even Mahatma Gandhi had said the Nagas are free to decide their own fate whether to join India or not.

But the then Government wanted to crush our movement within a few days.

But look we have fought for five decades now", he said. Referring to the insurgent outfit�s suggestions about creating a "federal" set up, he said his organisation had "gone to the extent of saying that Nagas will be citizens of Nagalim (Naga state) and at the same time, we will also be citizens of India.

We have taken this decision.

It is a positive step which should be appreciated by the Government".

The Nagalim and India could have federal relations in accordance with the terms of agreement which would be arrived at after the ongoing negotiations, he said. "This agreement must be incorporated in the Indian Constitution as well as the Naga Constitution and should not be allowed to be amended unilaterally.

Such a step will bind Nagalim and India firmly together".

Elaborating on the proposed "federal" set-up, Muivah said the question of defence and security of "both India and Nagalim" could be attended to by both the Indian and the Naga armed forces.

Observing that Nagas "should not be left discontented, otherwise problems will remain", the insurgent leader said it would be a tricky situation for India if they joined "external" forces.

In this context, he referred to the Chinese incursions in 1962 and said the Indian armed forces and the Nagas could jointly tackle such incursions, if any, though Indo-China relations have progressed very well in the recent past.

While foreign affairs could be attended to by the Government, the Nagas would accept Indian currency and other matters of finance and commerce.

However, on the external affairs front, if any issue affecting the Nagas came up, then they should also be made a party in the process, he said.

On the issue of ceasefire between NSCN(I-M) and security forces which expires on July 31, Muivah quoted a series of examples of "violations" from the Indian side and said the ceasefire is meaningless if its letter and spirit is not followed and it is confined only to Nagaland.

We had decided in Bangkok in 2001 that there will be no territorial limit to its area coverage".

Stressing the need for an early political solution to the vexed Naga issue, the NSCN(I-M) leader said "even the Indian armed forces have realised the futility of the military might and suggested that a political solution must be found".