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Muivah wife steps out

Guwahati, April 16: The wife of NSCN (I-M) leader Th. Muivah has emerged from the shadow of her mercurial husband to publicly voice her opinion on the Naga movement for the first time since the insurgent outfit was formed.

Pakahao Muivah, who is said to be the NSCN (I-M) general secretary’s “source of sustenance”, made her first public speech at a five-day conclave of the outfit in Ukhrul district of Manipur.

The event had been organised by the NSCN (I-M)’s Wung Tangkhul regional unit, which oversees the outfit’s activities in the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, to expand its “mass base”.

Pakahao’s participation in the conclave, which ended on Monday, triggered speculation about a big “role” for her in the affairs of the outfit. She herself stressed the need for women to play a “more important role” in the Naga peace process.

It is no coincidence that Muivah’s wife chose to make her maiden public speech at this point in time. With the dialogue between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre entering the decisive phase, the outfit could be trying to shed its guerrilla skin and turn into a political organisation.

K. Chawang, a kilonser (minister) in the NSCN (I-M) hierarchy, told The Telegraph over phone that the Ukhrul conclave was “part of the process of studying the ground situation against the backdrop of the progress of the ongoing peace process”.

Another source in the outfit’s “ministry of information and publicity” said Pakahao’s “brief and precise” speech set the tone for the meet, attended by about 3,000 people. “Naga men and women should work hand-in- hand,” she was quoted as saying.

The NSCN (I-M) general secretary’s wife also expressed gratitude towards all ranks of the outfit for their “supreme sacrifice for the Naga cause”.

Married to Muivah in August 1985, 25 years after they met and fell in love, Pakahao was content playing the housewife until recently. Her first public appearance was reportedly on March 21, at a “republic day” function in one of the NSCN (I-M) camps. She was the “guest of honour” at the event.

Though she has stayed away from the limelight, Pakahao’s contribution to Muivah’s rise is acknowledged by many in the outfit, including her husband.

“It is not easy for people to wait even for a year, but Pakahao waited for me for 25 years. In spite of certain lapses on her part as a human being, this kind of extraordinary sacrifice just cannot be taken lightly. Yes, I deeply appreciate her patience,” the NSCN (I-M) general secretary had once said of his wife.

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