The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre pushes CM for rebel talks

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The Centre has asked Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga to help bring all militant outfits of the Northeast to the negotiation table.

Zoramthanga, a former insurgent leader of the Mizo National Front, is playing a crucial role in the Naga peace talks. He had recently been to Bangkok as the special representative of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to extend an invitation to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) leadership to visit New Delhi.

Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani are reported to have made the request to the chief minister, who is currently in the capital.

“I told them that I would be happy to be instrumental in ending bloodshed and bringing peace anywhere,” said Zoramthanga, adding that he was working out the details for the talks at the political level with the NSCN (I-M) in the capital in December.

He suggested to the Centre and the NSCN (I-M) leadership that the opinion of the Naga people should be taken into consideration before the outfit put forward its demands, as was done in the case of the Mizo accord.

“The political demands made by the Naga underground outfit should be the demands of the Naga people, not the demands of the rebels,” he said.

The Manipur government has also decided to lift the ban imposed by the state on the NSCN (I-M) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, but has decided against dropping cases against its leaders, including the outfit’s general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, official sources said today.

The decision to this effect was taken during a high-level meeting presided over by Manipur chief minister O. Ibobi Singh and attended by senior officials, including chief secretary A.P. Sharma and director-general of police S. Bimolchandra Singh.

The Centre had allowed the ban on the Naga outfit to lapse from Tuesday.

Sources said the FIRs filed against NSCN (I-M) leaders in Manipur would not be cancelled and would be applicable whenever the need arose.

The law and order situation in the state in the wake of the recent attacks on security forces, including the November 20 incident in which insurgents had gunned down seven CRPF personnel in Bishenpur district, also came up for review during the meeting.

Nagaland chief minister S.C. Jamir had expressed apprehension that the NSCN (I-M) may “openly interfere” in the poll process now that the ban on the outfit has lapsed.

The Naga Church on Thursday urged the rebels to stay away from the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state, scheduled for early next year. The appeal was issued during an all-party meeting convened by the Nagaland Christian Forum at Kohima.

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