Naga integration to dominate talks
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, November 03 2008: FRUSTRATED OVER the long delay in bringing a solution to the vexed Naga issue, the NSCN(IM) is likely to seek firm commitment from the Centre over its demand for unification of Naga-inhabited areas at the peace talks scheduled to be held this month in the Netherlands.

NSCN(IM) chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah is likely to make it clear before a Group of Ministers headed by Oscar Fernandes that any compromise on the issue will not be acceptable to the Naga people.

"The issue is too hot, too sensitive," NSCN(IM) spokesman Vikiye Sumi told.

The NSCN-IM has been pressing for formation of a 'greater Nagalim' comprising all Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast.

However, this has been opposed by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The peace talks will be held on the second week of November in the Hague after a gap of nearly a year and are being considered crucial as the rebels raised questions over the government's sincerity in resolving the six-decade-old Naga insurgency problem in the Northeast.

The meeting will also review progress made since the NSCN(IM) submitted a 20-point charter of demands to the Centre.

In this charter, the NSCN (IM) had sought separate representation at the UN and greater rights over natural resources, finance, defence and policing, besides unification of Naga-inhabited areas.

In the last meeting, it was agreed to explore and discuss NSCN-IM's demand for a special federal relationship between New Delhi and Nagaland that allows Nagas' self governance and the issue will prominently figure in the forthcoming dialogue, a senior rebel leader said.

A team of Naga leaders will also go to the Hague to take part in the peace dialogue along with Swu and Muivah, who are already abroad.

The government has held over 60 rounds of talks with the NSCN-IM both in India as well abroad to find an amicable solution to the Naga issue.

NSCN-IM and security forces in Nagaland have been observing a truce since August 1997.The ceasefire has been extended every 12 months since then except last year when it was renewed for just six months at the insistence of the rebels and further extended by another six months in February.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio last month had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil to expedite the peace process, noting that the initial euphoria over Delhi's initiative towards resolving the issue was now being replaced by "scepticism" in public mind.

Admitting that the dialogue process had reached a stalemate, both sides held each other responsible for it.

Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan and former Union home secretary K Padmanabhaiah had hold talks with the Naga leadership on several previous occasions.