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NSCN top guns plan Feb. visit

New Delhi, Dec. 25 The two top leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) are planning a second visit to India almost a year after spending a hectic fortnight in New Delhi trying to break the ice with the political leadership.

If all goes well, NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah will be in the capital in February to take the peace process a few steps closer to the goal of ending Naga insurgency. The duo is expected to pack in a trip to Nagaland, their first since July 1999.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said he was certain the NSCN (I-M) leaders would visit the state. “The dates have not been fixed, but they will be visiting the state,” he said.

Official sources said Swu and Muivah’s itinerary had not been finalised because of their insistence on Delhi accepting some of their demands before the proposed visit. Rio was supposed to discuss this with L.K. Advani during his recent visit to Delhi, but failed to get an appointment with the deputy Prime Minister.

During their last round of talks with the NSCN (I-M)’s “collective” leadership in Bangkok, officials representing Delhi stressed the need for the duo to spend time in Nagaland to gauge the mood of the people. The militant leaders agreed to return to the country, but said the visit would be feasible only if the Centre acceded to some of their demands.

Echoing them, Rio said a second visit by the NSCN (I-M) leaders would be “meaningful” only if there was “forward movement” on their demands. “It is good that the leaders have expressed their desire to come to India. But they are willing to set foot in the country only if there are indications of some of the demands being met.”

Swu and Muivah’s visit to New Delhi in January, periodic discussions between the two sides abroad and the extension of the ceasefire in Nagaland as many as six times are the only positive developments since the truce was announced in 1997.

The NSCN (I-M) leaders have exhibited frustration on several occasions over the slow progress of the peace process. But one development has probably ensured that their next visit will be different from the last one.

The Nagaland Assembly recently adopted a resolution supporting the proposed integration of Naga-inhabited areas, pressuring Delhi into giving the demand a second thought.

On the objection of Nagaland’s neighbours to the integration of Naga-inhabited areas, Rio said discussions with Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh were “inevitable” and should begin soon.

“When the Nagas themselves want to come under a single administrative mechanism, we do not see any reason why others should have objections. The NSCN (I-M) leaders are only voicing the people’s wish. Negotiations with the neighbouring states must be started soon to remove the misconceptions,” he said.

The other demands of the NSCN (I-M) are a separate flag for the state, additional royalty on oil, a new name for the Assembly and official mention of ministers as kilonsers.

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