Oct 03, 2005

Nagalim: Centre to Resume Talks in Bangkok

A fresh round of peace talks between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) and the federal Group of Ministers is all set to begin in Bangkok, Thailand, in the second week of October
A fresh round of peace talks between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) and the federal Group of Ministers is all set to begin in Bangkok, Thailand, in the second week of October.

Disclosing this in an exclusive interview to rediff.com, Mani Charenamei, member of Parliament and a Naga leader from Manipur, said the 'Greater Nagaland' issue will certainly be the top agenda during the discussion.

Charenamei asserted that he was working as a facilitator between the government and the Naga underground outfit, headed by its General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and Chairman Issac Chishi Swu.

He also urged different Manipuri underground outfits to form a common platform and resume peace talks with the Centre.

The NSCN (I-M), on the other hand, is operating from South Asian territories since nearly four decades. It had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1997.

The government, on its part, has extended the ceasefire period for another six months after the earlier ceasefire agreement expired on July 31 this year.

While the NSCN insists on its one-point agenda -- the unification of Naga-inhabited areas of the northeast -- the Group of Ministers argue that since the Nagas were never under one administrative area it was not practical to reunite them, or to redraw the region's boundary.

The NSCN (I-M) and their followers want a 'Greater Nagaland' to be created by slicing off four districts from Manipur, (Chandel, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul), two from Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap and Changlang), and large parts from Assam, including the areas inhabited by the Karbi tribe.

Why talk with a banned outfit: NSCN

However, a majority of people from the three states have strongly reacted against any such move, as they feel that such an attempt would further disintegrate the region and widen the gap between the Indian mainland and the remote northeast.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi along with his counterparts Ibobi Singh and Gegong Apang, from Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh respectively, reiterated, "There can be no compromise on territorial integrity, and we will not accept any formula of sharing even an inch of our land."

Another issue the Group of Ministers is pushing forward is the unification of various Naga factions before arriving at any mutually acceptable formula to end the nearly six-decade-old Naga underground movement.

The NSCN (Khaplang) faction, mainly based in Myanmar, is yet to give its nod to the NSCN (I-M) faction's unification demand. The Khaplang faction has limited influence in the Mon, Tuensang and Makokchung districts of Nagaland.

NSCN general secretary Muivah, a Thangkhul Naga, belongs to Somdel village of Ukhrul district in Manipur. Issac Chishi Swu, the faction's chairman, is a Sema Naga from Dimapur. On the other hand, S S Khaplang is a Naga from Mynamar and his group has a good following among the Konyak, Ao, Sema and other Naga clans. This has been a major roadblock towards the unification of different Naga clans on a single platform.

In fact, Naga society is divided over the leadership issue. Ao and Angami, the two major Naga tribes of Nagaland, are not very keen on having a Thangkhul Naga of Manipur as the supreme Naga leader.

It is an irony that while the NSCN (I-M) insists on achieving a 'Greater Nagalim' by redrawing the northeast boundary, it has so far failed to achieve unity among the different Naga groups.

Source: Rediff.com