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Fresh life in Khaplang truce

New Delhi/Guwahati, April 21: The ceasefire between the Union government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) was extended for another year today.

On behalf of the NSCN (K), its finance minister Kughalu Mulatonu led a three-member delegation to New Delhi.

The team met the Centre’s representatives and the two sides agreed to extend the ceasefire agreement by a full year.

The new ceasefire will now be in force till April 28, 2007, sources in the Union home ministry said.

The NSCN (K) delegation included senior leaders C. Singson and A.Z. Jami.

The ceasefire between Delhi and the Khaplang faction was initially signed in 2001. Since then, the two sides have repeatedly extended it.

The NSCN (K) delegation wished to raise its demand for replacing Lt Gen. (retd.) R.V. Kulkarni as the head of the ceasefire monitoring cell, but could not do so since Gen. Kulkarni was present at the meeting.

Mulatonu said after the meeting the team would remain in New Delhi for some time and hold discussions with central representatives again to thrash out certain differences with regard to changing the ceasefire ground rules. The delegation would also reiterate its demand to replace Gen. Kulkarni.

The NSCN (K) believes that the ceasefire ground rules are extremely asymmetrical and loaded heavily in Delhi’s favour.

The extension of the five-year-old ceasefire has come at a time when both factions of the NSCN are engaged in a gory turf war in Nagaland.

The NSCN (K) has accused the Centre and the Neiphiu Rio-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government of conspiring with its rival to marginalise it.

Though the outfit has periodically extended the ceasefire, it has steadfastly refused to begin any political dialogue with the Centre.

It argues that unless Delhi abandons its efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Naga political imbroglio through negotiations with the rival Isak-Muivah faction, there was no point in the NSCN (K) getting involved in the peace process.

The ceasefire extension also holds significance as the military junta of Myanmar has hardened its stance.

Both the general and council headquarters of the outfit are located in the neighbouring country, from where outfit chairman S.S. Khaplang functions.

The Myanmarese army has made it clear that it would not allow the outfit to use its territory to carry out subversive activities.

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