The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tripura raises stink over talks strategy

Agartala, Nov. 26: The nascent peace process in Tripura has run into a roadblock with the Left Front government objecting to the Union home ministry's 'indulgent' attitude towards the Nayanbasi Jamatya faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT).

Expressing resentment over the way the peace process was being handled, a highly-placed source in the state government said Nayanbasi and his 'ragtag group' did not deserve 'that kind of legitimacy'. He said the Left Front had opposed the renewal of the extension of the 'so-called ceasefire' till December 31 on the ground that the militant faction had not done anything to prove its commitment to the peace process.

''To make things clear, our stand is that the militants must surrender and then get rehabilitation benefits, nothing else. The Union home ministry contacted us before announcing the renewal of the ceasefire from October 16 and we opposed it. But they insisted and we had to agree,' the source said.

Though the truce was subsequently extended by only two-and-a-half months instead of the proposed six, the CPM continues to sulk over the Union home ministry's decision to hold a round of discussions with the Nayanbasi group in New Delhi.

'Nayanbasi had wanted to plainly surrender in the month of January but the move was foiled by lack of co-ordination between the BSF and the state police. Subsequently, he was flown to Delhi unnecessarily as a VIP on March 27. On April 15, he signed the so-called ceasefire agreement in the presence of the then deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani. We were simply stunned,' the source said.

Accusing a section of 'over-enthusiastic and careerist police officials' of bungling the exercise, he said Nayanbasi did not represent any section of the people of Tripura and had 'no right to seek political concessions'.

On the militant leader's aspiration for the chief ministership and reservation of 57 of the 60 Assembly seats for tribals, he said: 'Absolutely no such absurd demand will be acceptable to us and there is no question of conceding anything except rehabilitation benefits.'

The source also questioned Nayanbasi's locus standi, saying he 'did not deserve to be treated any better than a surrendered outlaw'.

Nayanbasi and three of his aides reached New Delhi last week and the second round of peace talks commenced on Tuesday with the militant leader submitting his charter of demands. Officials in the Union home ministry and those representing the state government made it clear that no political demand would be acceptable, though a special package of Rs 200 crore for the welfare of the tribal community might be announced.

Nayanbasi is understood to have threatened to pick up arms again if his demands are not fulfilled. Security has been beefed up in and around the designated camps for militants at Khezur Bagan in Agartala and Maharani in Udaipur subdivision of South Tripura district.

The rebel leader said in New Delhi today that he asked Union home minister Shivraj Patil to ensure that the Left Front government in Tripura does not 'violate' the ceasefire agreement. 'The Tripura government is creating obstacles in the process of peace and political dialogue.'

Nayanbasi was, however, all praise for the Union home minister. 'He understands that the issue is a very sensitive one and the dialogue will stretch for a long time.'

The NLFT (Nayanbasi) recently changed its name to Integrated Freedom Movement Organisation of Tripura.

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