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Delhi glare on Naga clashes
- Home ministry team headed for state

Kohima, March 19: A Union home ministry team will arrive in the Nagaland capital tomorrow to take stock of the escalation of violence in the state and “streamline” the ground rules of Delhi’s ceasefire with the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the NSCN.

The team chosen for the assignment includes special secretary (internal security) M.L. Kumawat and joint secretary (Northeast) Naveen Verma.

The home ministry officials will hold closed-door meetings separately with leaders of the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang groups.

Thuingaleng Muivah, the NSCN (I-M) general secretary, is in Nagaland and is expected to participate in the deliberations.

Dimapur will be the venue of the scheduled meeting between the home ministry team and the NSCN (I-M)’s ceasefire monitoring cell. The officials will then proceed to Mon town, about 400 km from Kohima, to meet NSCN (K) members of the ceasefire supervisory board.

The delegation will also meet senior government officials to review law and order against the backdrop of clashes between the NSCN factions across the state.

Lt Gen. R.V. Kulkarni, chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group, confirmed that the home ministry team would review the situation as well as the ground rules of the truce.

Far from being annoyed about the prospect of a “review”, the NSCN (I-M) welcomed the development. The convenor of the outfit’s ceasefire monitoring cell, Phungthing Shimrang, said the meeting was long overdue. He claimed that the NSCN (I-M) had been pressuring Delhi for a review meeting and add teeth to the ground rules of the ceasefire.

Kughalu Mulatonu, supervisor of the Khaplang group’s ceasefire supervisory board, blamed the NSCN (I-M) for the situation in Nagaland. He said over phone from Mon that the meeting with home ministry officials would be an opportunity to present the true picture.

“Delhi must sever ties with the NSCN (I-M) if it wants to usher in peace and tranquillity in Nagaland. Peace and a solution to the vexed Naga political problem will be far from reality till such elements are sidelined,” Mulatonu said.

A four-member NSCN (K) team will participate in the meeting.

Mulatonu said his outfit was not in a hurry to start peace talks with Delhi. “Our priority is to restore peace in the state. Once peace is reinstated, other problems can be resolved in a phased manner.”

Delhi had allotted seven designated camps each to the NSCN factions. However, attacks by the NSCN (I-M) have left the Khaplang group without a single camp, except its ceasefire supervisory board office in Mon town.

Mulatonu said his outfit could not “maintain” its camps due to frequent attacks by the rival faction and lax implementation of the ceasefire rules.

The NSCN (I-M), on the other hand, has been labelling the Khaplang group an “Indian-sponsored outfit” whose objective is to derail the campaign for integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of the region.

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