The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clashes on truce agenda

New Delhi, Sept. 19: The recurrent problem of factional clashes in Nagaland will loom against the backdrop of next month’s talks between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah).

The Centre sees factional clashes in Nagaland as a “big problem”. So, this concern will have to be factored in when the group of Union ministers, led by Oscar Fernandez, holds parleys with the Isak-Muivah faction next month.

Again, it will be against this scenario that Union home ministry officials will meet NSCN (I-M) leaders early next month to discuss a review of the ceasefire ground rules that were laid down nine years ago. This, in turn, will influence the direct parleys.

The NSCN (I-M) is under pressure from rival groups — the NSCN (Khaplang) and the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN/Naga National Council-Adinno) — who have joined hands against the more powerful group.

It wants the ceasefire ground rules to be relaxed in its favour even as it keeps reminding the Centre that when it signed a ceasefire agreement, the government had agreed to keep the NSCN (K) at bay to let talks proceed smoothly. In the past couple of months, however, the situation in Nagaland has been volatile, with factional violence rising.

Rivals of the NSCN (I-M) insist on Nagaland’s sovereignty as a priority while the former has demanded integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas for bringing them under a single administrative umbrella.

The ceasefire mechanism, which Delhi has devised to monitor violation of ground rules by the outfits — the NSCN (K) signed a ceasefire agreement in 2001 — cannot stop factional clashes.

The Union home ministry is quite aware of this limitation and held a meeting last week with the chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group, Lt Gen. (retd.) R.V. Kulkarni.

Gen. Kulkarni apprised the Centre of the deteriorating ground situation in Nagaland, sources said.

Perceived to be toothless against violation of ceasefire ground rules by the outfits and under attack by both groups for being biased, the monitoring mechanism may be streamlined in the coming weeks. But it is uncertain how it could be done, said a source.

There is also uncertainty over how the review meeting’s minutes will affect the parleys between Th. Muivah and Fernandez.

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