Naga group wants peace talks in third country involving PM Modi
The NSCN-IM, which has been negotiating with the government to resolve its decades-old autonomy issues, has demanded the involvement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the talks for faster determination of their demands, insisting that the negotiations be held in a "third country"
The NSCN-IM, which has been negotiating with the government to resolve its decades-old autonomy issues, has demanded the involvement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the talks for faster determination of their demands, insisting that the negotiations be held in a "third country".
"In order to save the political dialogue, the talks should resume at the Prime Minister's level, without pre-condition and outside India in a third country," NSCN-IM led by its chief negotiator Thuingaleng Muivah said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
"If our stay in India is no more welcome, all necessary arrangements must be made for us to leave India and the political talks be resumed in a third country," said the letter, written to Modi on February 25.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) in a separate statement on Tuesday said that they deliberately withheld the letter for seven months before releasing it to the media for public consumption as it waited with all confidence that the Prime Minister would respond positively.
"NSCN-IM being accountable to the Naga people hereby released the letter to inform of the delay and the lack of response from the office of the Prime Minister to our people," the statement said.
Muivah, who is the Ato Kilonser (Prime Minister) of the self-styled Naga government, referred to the circumstances in which he and the then chairman of the outfit, Isak Chishi Swu, first arrived in India in 2002 and "patiently" stayed here since 2010 to conclude an "acceptable and honourable political settlement".
The letter, which is available with IANS, said that the NSCN-IM started talks with the government only after the latter recognised the Naga problem as a "political issue" and stopped calling it India's internal law and order matter.
Muivah said: "We mentioned in our proposal that Nagaland shall use its national flag, anthem, emblem and insignia, and have a separate Constitution called 'Yehzabo'."
In the eight-page letter, Muivah also highlighted what he called the "obnoxious" conduct of the union Home Ministry while dealing with the Naga question.
"We are totally shocked and surprised that even after more than two decades of political negotiation, the MHA and its agencies have become obnoxious.
"It has come as a total shock and surprise that the Indian government has started branding and accusing the members of the NSCN-IM who are in political negotiation as terrorists and with impunity they are arresting the members of the organisation," the letter said.
Muivah was also critical about the role of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who, before taking up the new assignment, was the Government of India's chief negotiator for the Naga talks.
"Ravi was interfering with the law and order issues in 'deliberate deviation' from his appointment as the Centre's representative for the peace talks.
"The activities of the representative of the government is polarising the Naga society instead of uniting the Nagas for an honourable political solution," the NSCN-IM leader said.
According to officials in Nagaland, a nine-member team of NSCN-IM led by Muivah has been holding informal talks with the Centre since the second week of August in New Delhi as a prelude to the formal parleys which are expected to begin soon.
The NSCN-IM and intelligence sources said that while many of the 31 demands of the Nagas have been almost resolved, differences remain over a separate flag and a separate Constitution.
Nagalim, a long-pending demand of the NSCN-IM for a separate Naga state, encompasses the Naga-inhabited areas of Myanmar as well as parts of the northeastern states bordering Nagaland.
The Nagalim map published by the outfit a few years back included Tirap, Changlang, Longding, Anjaw, Lohit and Namsai districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
The NSCN-IM has held a number of rounds of negotiations with the Central government in Delhi and even outside India after signing a ceasefire pact in August 1997. The Modi government had signed a "framework agreement" with the NSCN-IM in 2015.
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