Nagalim: NSCN-IM may extend ceasefire for unlimited time
In what is clearly a positive development, Nagaland's leading rebel group is contemplating extending a nine-year ceasefire till a peace pact is signed with New Delhi to end decades of insurgency.
Central minister Oscar Fernandes and New Delhi's main peace negotiator K. Padmanabhaiah are currently meeting leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) in Bangkok.
The talks, which began Saturday, were aimed at extending the ceasefire that expires later Monday. 'There is a proposal to extend the ceasefire without any time limit and carry on with the truce as long as the talks continue,' a senior NSCN-IM leader told IANS.
'We are discussing this proposal although we cannot say for sure what happens when we meet the Indian government team for talks later Monday.'
A joint statement is expected to be released later Monday at the end of the talks, detailing the agreements reached between the two sides to carry forward the peace process.
The NSCN-IM, led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, threatened last week not to extend the truce and accused the Indian Army of covertly supplying weapons to a rival outfit to provoke a 'fratricidal war'.
The main NSCN-IM wants a 'Greater Nagaland' to unite 1.2 million Nagas, by incorporating slices of Naga-inhabited neighbouring states, into Nagaland. The other states strongly oppose this. NSCN-IM leaders in Bangkok were insisting on the need to have a separate Naga Constitution, independent of the Indian constitution.
'We cannot accept the Indian constitution although we are not totally opposed to having some important sections of the Indian constitution incorporated in the Naga constitution,' the rebel leader said.
India and the NSCN-IM have held at least 50 rounds of negotiations in the past nine years in a bid to end one of South Asia's oldest revolts, which has claimed around 25,000 lives since New Delhi's independence in 1947.